Europe This Week: February 16, 2022

February 16, 2022

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.

A courtyard of the University of Salamanca in Spain’s Castile and León region, which just held regional snap elections. Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain and one of the oldest in the world, founded in 1218. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Diego Deiso (CC-BY-SA)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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.

Recently, Germany’s parliament re-elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier to the presidency – a largely ceremonial role in Germany.

Reuters (February 13, 2022): Germany’s President Steinmeier re-elected for second five-year term

Ben Knight, DW (February 13, 2022): German presidential election: A foregone conclusion in a moment of crisis

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 (February 12, 2022): Hungary’s Orban kicks off re-election campaign with opposition parties united against him

Serbia Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: April 3, 2022

Serbia holds early presidential and legislative elections on April 3, following a constitutional referendum on January 16 in which voters approved constitutional changes related to the judiciary – a move some hope will bring Serbia closer to EU membership.

The last elections, snap parliamentary elections in June 2020, took place 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.

Misha Savic, Bloomberg (February 15, 2022): Serbia to Hold Snap Vote in April as Vucic Seeks to Extend Grip on Power

Reuters (February 15, 2022): Serbian president sets April 3 as election date

Aleksandar Ivković, European Western Balkans (February 14, 2022): Is China replacing Europe as Vučić’s favorite pre-election destination?

Aleks Eror, RFE/RL (February 9, 2022): In Serbia, A Toxic Mix Of Nationalism And Animal Rights

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.

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. Pécresse has polled in second and could very realistically beat both of the far-right candidates and make it to the runoff.

Davide Basso, Euractiv (February 16, 2022): Elections 2022: France’s two far-right camps explained

Jon Henley, The Guardian (February 14, 2022): French elections 2022: what could happen when country heads to polls? As France prepares to elect next president, nearly half of voters say they are still undecided

Michele Barbero, Foreign Policy (February 14, 2022): The French Left Can’t Find the Right Path: With elections looming, France’s historically strong leftists are in utter disarray—again.

Tracy McNicoll, France24 (February 11, 2022): Explainer: How does France’s two-round presidential election work?

Jonathan Miller, The Spectator (February 10, 2022): How democratic are the French elections? The strange rules which could stop Zemmour and Le Pen from running

United Kingdom Local Elections, including Northern Ireland Assembly: May 5, 2022

The United Kingdom holds local elections for some local councils, as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly (although the Northern Ireland elections could take place earlier). The Northern Ireland elections could be a watershed. Polling suggests that unionist parties could lose their majority and the nationalist Sinn Féin could become the biggest party. By far the biggest issue in public debate is Northern Ireland’s trade arrangements following Brexit.

In last year’s local elections, the Conservatives made gains on councils, particularly in England, but Labour’s Sadiq Khan was re-elected mayor of London. Labour also held onto its working majority in the Welsh parliament. In the high-stakes Scottish Parliament elections, the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) won the most seats after campaigning on another independence referendum, but failed to win a majority, making it harder to insist on a new referendum. All of Scotland’s local councils are up for election in 2022. The SNP is currently the biggest party in local government, and it is worth watching whether they make gains this year.

Jonathan McCambridge, Belfast Telegraph (February 14, 2022): Poll puts Sinn Fein on course to be largest Stormont party

Clare Rice, London School of Economics (February 11, 2022): Political turmoil again in Northern Ireland, but not as we know it: understanding the dynamics of the 2022 election

Mark Landler, New York Times (February 10, 2022): Upheaval in Northern Ireland, With Brexit at Its Center

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. However, BiH faces a number of problems, including poor economic prospects, incompetent governance, and bitter political fights. 

BiH consists of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, populated mostly by Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats, and the Republika Srpska, with mostly Orthodox Serbs. Recently, tensions have flared as Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has used increasingly inflammatory rhetoric and taken actions that some analysts see as moving toward secession. According to Reuters, “The Balkan country is going through its worst political crisis since the end of a war in the 1990s after Bosnian Serbs blocked decision-making in national institutions and launched a process to withdraw from the state armed forces, tax system and judiciary.”

Both Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats have threatened to boycott the upcoming elections.

Stephanie Bunbury, Sydney Morning Herald (February 15, 2022): Movie portrays how easily Bosnia slipped ‘from normal life into hell’

Marton Dunai, Financial Times (February 15, 2022): Bosnian Serb leader defiant as political ambitions rattle west: Milorad Dodik denies his pursuit of more autonomy threatens the entire western Balkans

Robin Emmott, Reuters (February 14, 2022): EU should consider sanctions on Bosnian Serbs if crisis worsens, document says

Majda Rudge, European Council on Foreign Relations (February 11, 2022): Peace of the action: The Kremlin’s plans in Bosnia and Ukraine

RFE/RL (February 10, 2022): Bosnian Serbs Move Forward With Bid To Establish Separate Judiciary

Czech Republic Presidential Election: By January 2023

The Czech Republic is due to hold a presidential election by January 2023. These follow parliamentary elections, which took place on October 8-9, 2021. The then-incumbent prime minister, controversial billionaire Andrej Babiš, and populist ANO party lost to an opposition coalition of the center-right and the center-left Pirates. Petr Fiala from the Civic Democratic Party became prime minister. Babiš’s government was friendly toward Russia and China, but the new government appears to be changing course.

The Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy; as such, the prime minister holds most executive power, while the president is the head of state. However, current president Miloš Zeman, an anti-immigrant populist who also favors closer ties to Russia and China, has been accused of overstepping his constitutional role, with Babiš being insufficiently powerful to stop him. Zeman is not eligible to run for a third term. More

David Hutt, Euronews (Feburary 15, 2022): Meet the extrovert billionaire bidding to be the Czech Republic’s next president

Aneta Zachová, Euractiv (February 14, 2022): Babis re-elected as leader of Czech liberals, mulls presidential candidacy

Past Europe Elections

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

Spain’s Castile and León region held hold early elections to the regional legislature on February 13, 2022. The current government is a coalition of the conservative Popular Party (PP) and the liberal Citizens Party. PP called the elections in hopes of winning a majority. However, the call did not pay off – while PP remains the biggest party, it failed to win a majority and will need to form a coalition, most likely with the far-right Vox. If that happens, it will be Vox’s first time to be a part of any government in Spain.

Castile and León’s legislature traces its origins to the Cortes of León of 1188, which UNESCO has called the oldest example of a parliamentary system in Europe.

After that, the country holds local and general elections in 2023.

Inti Landauro and Belén Carreño, Reuters (February 14, 2022): Spain’s far-right Vox poised for first share of power

Daniel Dombey, Financial Times (February 13, 2022): Spain’s far-right Vox seeks place in regional government after elections: Polls hand hardline party balance of power in Castile-León as conservative PP falls short of majority

Guy Hedgecoe, Politico (February 10, 2022): ‘Empty Spain’ in the spotlight as countryside fights back: Election in the rural region of Castile and León highlights the inequalities between rural and urban.

Portugal Snap Parliamentary Elections: January 30, 2022

Portugal held snap elections on January 30, two years early, following the government’s defeat in a crucial budget vote. The incumbent Socialist Party won, surprising observers with an outright majority, an upgrade from its previous minority government.

The two main parties, center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) and leftist Socialist s, 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.

Euronews with AP, AFP (February 16, 2022): Portugal’s new government delayed by 157,000 invalid votes from abroad

AP (February 16, 2022): Partial election rerun embarrasses Portuguese politicians

Italy Indirect Presidential Election: Began January 24, 2022

Italy’s parliament began the process of choosing a president on January 24, and after six days and eight rounds of voting, lawmakers re-elected incumbent Sergio Mattarella. Although Italy’s president does not have much formal executive power, Mattarella has become increasingly powerful as a mediator in Italy’s recent series of political crises. Although he did not seek another term, he agreed to continue serving in order to preserve political stability.

Current prime minister Mario Draghi had indicated interest in the role, which threatened to trigger snap elections if the current broad coalition of right and left-wing parties does not hold together. Italy is currently not due for parliamentary elections until 2023. Some fear another bout of instability if Draghi leaves his current role – Draghi’s accession to the role of prime minister ended the last round of political chaos.

In addition, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had been campaigning from the role, but withdrew before voting started.

General elections are due by June 2023.

Carlo Bastasin, Brookings Institution (February 14, 2022): Even after Mattarella’s reelection, Italy’s political system remains unstable

Stefano Graziosi and James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation (February 14, 2022): In Italy, More Signs of Europe’s Strategic Incoherence

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

Bulgaria held a presidential election on November 14 along with parliamentary elections – the third this year after no one could form a government following the first two. It appears that the third time was a charm, as a new political party called We Continue the Change (whose founders tout their Harvard credentials) formed a broad coalition.

The elections brought major change, ousting former PM Boyko Borissov’s center-right GERB, which had governed for most of the last 12 years. The country also saw the rise of a party called There Is Such a People (ITN), led by TV star Stanislav Trifonov, which came in second in the April elections and first in the July elections. Despite being edged out by We Continue the Change in November, ITN will be part of the new coalition. The other parties in the government will be the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the centrist/center-right Democratic Bulgaria coalition.

Bulgaria is a member of NATO and the European Union (EU); however, it remains the poorest and most corrupt member of the EU. Meanwhile, Russia seeks to influence Bulgaria. Moreover, Bulgaria is currently embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with neighboring North Macedonia involving issues of language and history. Last year, it blocked North Macedonia’s EU accession. This comes on the heels of North Macedonia literally changing its name in order to get Greece to stop blocking its NATO and EU membership. More

Blaga Thagard, New Eastern Europe (February 11, 2022): Towards a new Bulgaria or a new deception?

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

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

Austria, Local Elections in Tyrol: February 27, 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

United Kingdom Local Elections, including Northern Ireland Assembly: May 5, 2022

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

Iceland Local Elections: May 14, 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)

Austria Presidential Election: Fall 2022 (due)

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

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.

Share This