Europe This Week: November 10, 2021

November 10, 2021

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in Europe, usually posted on Wednesdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

The Sofia public mineral baths, a landmark in Bulgaria’s capital. Bulgaria holds its third set of parliamentary elections this month. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Bin im Garten (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Bulgaria Parliamentary Elections, Take 3 and Presidential Election: November 14, 2021

Bulgaria is holding a presidential election on November 14 along with a third set of parliamentary elections since no government was formed following the July 11 elections (themselves the result of no government being formed following the original elections on April 4). In Bulgaria’s parliamentary system, the prime minister holds executive power, while the president is largely ceremonial.

In the April polls, PM Boyko Borissov’s center-right GERB won the most seats, but lost ground and failed to win a majority. New parties running against the establishment did surprisingly well – in fact,  a party called There Is Such a People (ITN), led by TV star Stanislav Trifonov, came in second and ruled out forming a coalition with GERB. Trifonov’s main platform was anti-corruption – indeed, corruption was the biggest issue in the election. 

In the July elections, Trifonov’s ITN surpassed GERB to win the most seats, but not enough for a majority. ITN was not able to form a government, and the Socialists refused. Therefore, Bulgarians will head to the polls for a third time. More

Alice Taylor and Krassen Nikolov, Euractiv (November 11, 2021): Bulgarian elections set to determine Western Balkan enlargement

AFP (November 10, 2021): Harvard-educated duo vies for power in Bulgaria

Euractiv (November 9, 2021): Bulgaria received pre-election discount from Gazprom

Cyprus, Northern Cyprus Snap Elections: January 22, 2022

Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey, could hold snap elections soon following the resignation of the government. In last year’s presidential election, Ankara-backed nationalist Ersin Tatar won, exacerbating tensions on the island.

Hurriyet Daily News (November 9, 2021): North Cyprus to go to early polls in January

Portugal Snap Elections: January 30, 2022

Portugal will hold snap elections on January 30, following the government’s defeat in a crucial budget vote.

The two main parties, center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) and leftist Socialist Party (PS), regularly alternate in power. In the 2015 parliamentary elections, PSD won a plurality of seats and briefly formed a minority government, which collapsed after less than two months. PS leader Antonio Costa formed a left-wing coalition and became prime minister. In the 2019 elections, the Socialists won again, but did not get a majority. Subsequently, Costa formed a minority government

Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves, Reuters (November 4, 2021): Portugal heads to polls on Jan. 30, political stability fades

Italy Indirect Presidential Election: Begins January 4, 2022

John Hooper, Reuters (November 8, 2021): Will Mario Draghi run to be Italy’s president? Or will he remain as prime minister?

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: By Spring 2022 (or earlier)

Hungary is due to hold parliamentary elections by Spring 2022, although snap elections are possible. Prime Minster Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has become increasingly authoritarian, to the concern of many both in Hungary and in the international community. Moreover, Orbán’s increasingly close ties to Russia and China have become a concern for many Hungarian voters.

A number of opposition parties recently held a primary to field a single candidate for prime minister. Ultimately, conservative Péter Márki-Zay, mayor of the southern city of Hódmezővásárhely, won the second round, defeating leftist Klára Dobrev, after liberal Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony – who had been seen as a favorite – dropped out and endorsed Márki-Zay.

Marton Dunai and Ben Hall, Financial Times (November 10, 2021): Hungary opposition leader vows ‘regime change’ if Orban defeated: Peter Marki-Zay says new government would seek referendum on changing constitution

Zoltan Simon, Bloomberg (November 9, 2021): Orban Locks In Prosecutor Ally Before Close Hungary Election

Vendeline Von Bredow, The Economist (November 8, 2021): Could Viktor Orban be voted out of office? To widespread surprise, the opposition have united around one candidate

France Presidential Election: April 10 and 24, 2022, followed by Legislative Elections: June 12 and 19, 2022

France holds presidential and legislative elections in spring 2022. These follow the June 2021 regional elections, in which the far-right failed to make gains that had been predicted by pre-election polls. The regional elections put the center-right Republicans in a stronger position to challenge President Emmanuel Macron.

Meanwhile, while many had predicted a rematch between Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen, whom Macron defeated in 2017, it is becoming increasingly unclear who will make it to the second round (if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote on April 10, the top two face off in a runoff on April 24). The rise of far-right media personality Éric Zemmour, who is often compared to Donald Trump, could take support away from Le Pen. Meanwhile, the center-right Les Républicans will hold a congress to select their candidate. The Socialists have already held their primary, which was won by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

John Leicester, AP (November 10, 2021): Without saying so, France’s Macron launching re-election bid

Colm Quinn, Foreign Policy (November 10, 2021): Zemmour Rises in French Polls: The far-right pundit has jumped to second place in polls ahead of April’s French presidential election

Andy Bounds and Victor Mallet, Financial Times (November 10, 2021): France slows EU trade deals with New Zealand and Chile until after election

Voice of America (November 9, 2021): US Vice President in France to Ease Tensions with Long-standing Ally

Rod McGuirk, AP (November 3, 2021): France says Australia hits ‘new low’ leaking Macron texts

Sweden Parliamentary Elections: September 11, 2022

Sweden’s next elections are not due until September 2022, but in June 2021, the left-leaning coalition led by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven fell in a no-confidence vote. Lofven was re-elected PM, but could fall in yet another no-confidence vote if his government cannot pass a budget. In August, Lofven suddenly announced his resignation, effective in November. Magdalena Andersson, currently the finance minister, looks likely to succeed him and become Sweden’s first female prime minister.

Charlie Duxbury, Politico (November 10, 2021): Stefan Löfven officially resigns, opening door to Sweden’s first female prime minister

AFP (November 4, 2021): Sweden’s Social Democrats elect Magdalena Andersson as leader

Past Europe Elections

North Macedonia Local Elections: October 17, 2021

North Macedonia held local elections on October 17, 2021 which delivered a landslide victory for the opposition VMRO-DPMNE. These follow par liamentary elections in July 2020. Following a historic agreement with Greece, and a name change, North Macedonia joined NATO in 2020 and is currently in talks to join the EU (although now Bulgaria is trying to hold that up).

The country’s politics are fragmented and fractious. The 2020 elections were extremely close, but ultimately PM Zoran Zaev and his Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) were able to once again form a government with the backing of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the main ethnic Albanian party (ethnic Albanians make up about a quarter of the population). SDSM also controlled most of the municipalities heading into the local elections, having beaten the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE in a majority of municipalities and ousting the VMRO-DMPNE mayor of Skopje.

RFE/RL (November 10, 2021): North Macedonia’s PM Delays Resignation

Reuters (November 8, 2021): N.Macedonia’s opposition parties file no-confidence motion against government

Valentina Dimitrievska, bne Intellinews (November 8, 2021): Political earthquake follows local elections in North Macedonia

Aleksandar Samardjiev, Observatorio Balcani (November 5, 2021): Local elections in North Macedonia, the impact on the central government

Zeljko Trkanjec, Euractiv (November 4, 2021): North Macedonia opposition party calls for early elections

Czech Republic Parliamentary Elections: October 8-9, 2021

The Czech Republic held parliamentary elections October 8-9, 2021. The current prime minister, controversial billionaire Andrej Babiš, came to power following the 2017 parliamentary elections. His populist ANO party won a plurality, but not majority, of seats, and he has had a turbulent tenure in office. Ultimately, an opposition coalition of the center-right and the center-left Pirates narrowly defeated Babis and are expected to form the next government. More

Euronews with AP (November 9, 2021): Centre-right parties sign coalition deal to form new Czech government

Chris Thomson, Foreign Brief (November 8, 2021): Czech Republic’s parliament to reconvene for first time since elections

Siegfried Mortkowitz, Politico (November 5, 2021): Czech president confirms PM Andrej Babiš is heading for the exit: Petr Fiala is set to be new head of government, says Miloš Zeman in interview from hospital.

Germany Bundestag Elections: September 26, 2021 (plus state elections throughout the year)

Germany held several sets of elections next year, culminating in the September 26, 2021 federal parliamentary elections that will determine who succeeds Angela Merkel as chancellor. The Social Democratic Party (SPD), headed by Olaf Scholz, placed first, with 25.7 percent of the vote. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), along with its Bavarian partner Christian Social Union (CSU), suffered a historic defeat in these elections, placing second with 24.1 percent of the vote, possibly due to the personal unpopularity of its standard-bearer, Armin Laschet, who made a series of gaffes during the campaign.

A big story during the election was the rise of the Greens, who even topped opinion polls at various points, but ultimately placed third. They portrayed themselves as responsible and mainstream, choosing pragmatist Annalena Baerbock as their standard-bearer. Finally, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) placed fourth, with 11 percent of the vote, after five years of having no seats in the Bundestag (since FDP failed to meet the 5 percent threshold in the 2017 elections).

Since another “grand coalition” between CDU/CSU and SPD – the current government – is unlikely for a variety of reasons, the next government will most likely consist of three parties. It could either be a “Jamaica coalition” of CDU/CSU, FDP, and the Greens, or a “traffic light coalition” consisting of SPD, plus FDP and the Greens. The Greens and FDP are holding talks with one another before negotiating with either CDU/CSU or SPD, and reaching any sort of deal could take months.

Tom Nuttall, The Economist (November 8, 2021): A new coalition government will try to find its feet in Germany

Sabine Kinkartz, DW (November 8, 2021): SPD selects new leadership with demonstrative harmony

AP (November 5, 2021): German Greens see slow progress in talks on new government

Guy Chazan, Financial Times (November 4, 2021): German arguments over next finance minister echo beyond its borders: Liberal Christian Lindner is the favourite for a powerful role that shapes policy across Europe

Romania Parliamentary Elections: December 6, 2020

Romania held parliamentary elections on December 6. Amid low turnout due partly to COVID-19, the scandal-plagued leftist Social Democrats (PSD) unexpectedly came in first place. However, a coalition of parties formed a center-right government, headed by Florin Cîțu from the center-right National Liberal Party (PNL). More

Andrei Chirileasa, Romania Insider (November 10, 2021): New ruling partners in Romania hope to have Govt. ready by Nov 18

Orlando Crowcroft, Euronews (November 9, 2021): Romania’s two biggest parties will begin talks to end political crisis

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (November 8, 2021): Romanian Parties Splash State Cash on Media and PR

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Bulgaria Presidential Election: November 14, 2021

Kosovo Local Election Runoffs: November 14, 2021 (following October 17 first round)

Denmark Regional and Municipal Elections: November 16, 2021

Italy Indirect Presidential Election: January 4, 2022

Cyprus, Northern Cyprus Snap Elections: January 22, 2022

Finland County Elections: January 23, 2022

Portugal Snap Parliamentary Elections: January 30, 2022

Serbia Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: April 3, 2022

France Presidential Election: April 10 and 24, 2022

Austria Presidential Election: April 2022 (due)

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: April 2022 (due)

Slovenia Parliamentary Elections: By June 5, 2022

France Legislative Elections: June 12 and 19, 2022

Malta Parliamentary Elections: June 2022 (due – snap elections possible)

Sweden Parliamentary Elections: September 11, 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2022 (due)

Latvia Parliamentary Elections: October 2022 (due)

Slovenia Presidential Election: October/November 2022 (due)

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