Europe This Week: December 29, 2021

December 29, 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 Serbian Academy of Science and Arts Building in Belgrade. Serbia holds a constitutional referendum followed by general elections this year. Photo credit:

Upcoming Europe Elections

Serbia Constitutional Referendum: January 16, 2022, followed by Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: April 3, 2022

Serbia held snap parliamentary elections on June 21, 2020 in a climate of mistrust. Many opposition parties boycotted, and therefore, President Alexander Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) dominated. Vucic announced that the new parliament would not serve a full term, and that the Serbia would hold both presidential and parliamentary elections by April 2022.

Serbia has tried to balance movement toward joining the European Union with maintaining good relations with Russia. Meanwhile, China has stepped up its presence.

Ivana Stradner, Foreign Affairs (December 27, 2021): Russia Is Playing With Fire in the Balkans: How Putin’s Power Play Threatens Europe

Marton Dunai and Neil Hume, Financial Times (December 27, 2021): Rio Tinto’s lithium mine plan electrifies Serbia

Milenko Vasovic, Balkan Insight (December 23, 2021): Vucic’s New Pose as Serbia’s ‘Protector’ Shouldn’t Fool Anyone

Svetla Miteva, Euractiv (December 20, 2021): Vucic backs down on Rio Tinto project under pressure from civil society

Aleksandar Ivković, European Western Balkans (December 20, 2021): [EWB Interview] Kmezić: Outcome of the protests showed that Vučić’s rule is not unlimited

Finland County Elections: January 23, 2022

On January 23, 2022, Finland will hold elections to newly-created county councils. These councils will assume responsibility for providing healthcare (the responsibility previously fell to municipal councils).

Following the 2019 parliamentary elections, a left-leaning coalition came into government nationally. The conservative National Coalition Party won the most seats in the local elections, with the Social Democrats placing second. The far-right Finns Party made gains in its vote share. More

Helsinki Times (December 29, 2021): National Coalition in lead ahead of first county elections in Finland

YLE News (December 19, 2021): Poll: Less than half plan to vote in county elections: A new survey suggests that the voting rate in next month’s healthcare election may struggle to reach 40 percent.

Italy Indirect Presidential Election: Begins January 24, 2022

Giselda Vagnoni and Crispian Balmer, Reuters (December 22, 2021): Italy’s Draghi signals he’s willing to become president

The Local (December 22, 2021): EXPLAINED: Who could be elected as Italy’s next president?

Portugal Snap Parliamentary 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

André Campos, LUSA (December 17, 2021): Scholz praises Portugal’s Costa, expresses ‘absolute confidence’ in re-election

Spain, Snap Regional Elections in Castile and León: February 13, 2022

Spain’s Castile and León region will hold early elections to the regional legislature on February 13, 2022.

Beyza Binnur Donmez, Andalou Agency (December 20, 2021): Spain’s Castile and Leon to hold early regional elections on Feb. 13: Alfonso Fernandez Manueco dissolves 81-seat unicameral legislature Cortes of Castile and Leon

Germany Saarland State Elections: March 27, 2022, followed by Schleswig-Holstein State Elections: May 8, 2022, North Rhine-Westphalia State Elections: May 15, 2022, and Lower Saxony State Elections: October 8, 2022

Germany holds several sets of state elections in 2022, following the “Superwahljahr” (Super Election Year) of 2021, which saw the defeat of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and a new “traffic light coalition” government consisting of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens.

Geir Moulson, AP (December 17, 2021): Germany: Merkel’s party chooses conservative Merz as leader

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: April 3, 2022

Hungary is holding parliamentary elections on April 3, 2022. 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.

Reuters (December 21, 2021): Hungary to defy EU court ruling over migration policy, Orban says

AFP (December 19, 2021): Hungary anti-LGBTQ blitz meets backlash as election looms

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.

As for the traditionally-dominant parties, the center-right Republicans have selected Valérie Pécresse, president of the regional council of Île-de-France. The Socialists chose Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo as their candidate.

Constant Méheut and Léontine Gallois, New York Times (December 29, 2021): A Movement to Unify the French Left Might Be Its Last Chance for the Elections

Tara Patel, Bloomberg (December 18, 2021): Macron Likely to Face Pecresse in French Runoff, Poll Shows

Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian (December 17, 2021): Ex-minister Taubira considers French election run as left’s ‘unity candidate’: Christiane Taubira, who would be first president to be Black or female, has been called ‘moral conscience of the left’

Bosnia and Herzegovina General Elections: October 2, 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) holds general elections on October 2, 2022. The 2020 local elections, which took place in the context of gridlock and ethno-nationalism, delivered a blow to the three main ethnic-based political parties, with opposition forces winning in Sarajevo and other key cities. BiH faces a number of problems, including poor economic prospects, incompetent governance, and bitter political fights. More

M. Apelblat, Brussels Times (December 18, 2021): EU and the constitutional crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Andy Heil, RFE/RL (December 16, 2021): Bosnia On The Brink Again: Is 2022 Going To Be The Year Everything Falls Apart?

Slovakia Local Elections: November 2022 (due)

Slovakia is due to hold local elections in November 2022. In the last parliamentary elections in February 2020, a coalition of then-opposition parties running on an anti-corruption platform defeated the then-incumbent populists. However, a subsequent scandal over the Russian Sputnik COVID vaccine has engulfed the government, threatening its collapse. More

Reuters (December 17, 2021): Ex-PM Fico faces charges for breaking Slovakia’s COVID rules

Poland Parliamentary Elections: Fall 2023 (snap elections possible)

Poland is due to hold parliamentary elections in fall 2023, but snap elections are possible if the three-party government headed by the conservative Law and Justice does not hold together.

James Shotter, Financial Times (December 24, 2021): Polish opposition politician targeted by NSO spyware, cyber expert says: Krzysztof Brejza’s mobile phone was hacked 33 times ahead of 2019 election, claims Citizen Lab

Past Europe Elections

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

Bulgaria 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.

This time around, a new party called We Continue the Change won the most seats and is currently in the process of trying to form a government. It frequently touts the Harvard degrees of its two leaders. More

Svetoslav Todorov, Balkan Insight (December 16, 2021): Cracks Over Policy Cast Shadow over Bulgaria’s New Govt

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 (December 29, 2021): North Macedonia’s President Asks Kovachevski To Form New Government

RFE/RL (December 22, 2021): North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Submits His Resignation To Parliament

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Serbia Constitutional Referendum: January 16, 2022

Cyprus, Northern Cyprus Snap Elections: January 22, 2022

Finland County Elections: January 23, 2022

Italy Indirect Presidential Election: January 24, 2022

Portugal Snap Parliamentary Elections: January 30, 2022

Netherlands Local Elections: March 16, 2022

Germany, Saarland State Elections: March 27, 2022

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: April 3, 2022

Serbia Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, plus Belgrade City Assembly Elections: April 3, 2022

France Presidential Election: April 10 and 24, 2022

Slovenia Parliamentary Elections: April 24, 2022

Austria Presidential Election: April 2022 (due)

United Kingdom Local Elections: May 5, 2022

Germany, Schleswig-Holstein State Elections: May 8, 2022

Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia State Elections: May 15, 2022

France Legislative Elections: June 12 and 19, 2022

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

Sweden Parliamentary and Local Elections: September 11, 2022

Latvia Parliamentary Elections: October 1, 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2, 2022

Germany, Lower Saxony State Elections: October 9, 2022

Czech Republic Local and Partial Senate Election: October 2022

Spain, Andalusia Regional Elections: Between June and October 2022 (due)

Slovenia Presidential and Local Elections: October/November 2022 (due)

Slovakia Local Elections: November 2022 (due)

Czech Republic Presidential Election: By January 2023

Austria, Lower Austria State Elections: January 2023 (due)

Cyprus Presidential Election: February 2023 (due)

Monaco Parliamentary Elections: February 2023 (due)

Austria, Tyrol State Elections: February 2023 (due)

Estonia General Elections: By March 5, 2023

Netherlands Provincial Council and Water Authority Elections: March 2023 (due)

Austria, Carinthia State Elections: March 2023 (due)

Finland Parliamentary Elections: By April 2023

Montenegro Presidential Election: April 2023 (due)

Austria, Salzburg State Elections: April 2023 (due)

Spain Local Elections and Various Regional Elections: May 28, 2023

Germany, Bremen State Elections: May 2023 (due)

Greece Local Elections: May 2023 (due)

Latvia Indirect Presidential Election: May 2023 (due)

Italy General Elections: By June 1, 2023

Denmark General Elections: By June 4, 2023

Greece Parliamentary Elections: By August 6, 2023

Norway Local Elections: September 2023

Switzerland Federal Parliamentary Elections: October 2023 (due)

Luxembourg General Elections: October 2023

Bulgaria Local Elections: October 2023

Germany, Hesse and Bavaria State Elections: October 2023 (due)

Finland, Åland Elections: By October 2023

Poland Parliamentary and Local Elections: By November 11, 2023

Spain General Elections: By December 10, 2023 (snap elections possible)

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