Europe This Week: February 23, 2022

February 23, 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.

Marsamxett Harbor in Sliema, Malta. Malta holds parliamentary elections on March 26, 2022, a few months early. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Mboesch (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Malta Parliamentary Elections: March 26, 2022

Malta has scheduled parliamentary elections for March 26, 2022, a few months early (the elections were originally due in June). The current government of center-left the Labour Party is completing its second term, and opinion polls put it in the lead for the upcoming elections.

Hannah Brenton, Politico (February 20, 2022): Malta heads to the polls in March: The prime minister’s Labour Party is expected to win a third term in office.

Reuters (February 20, 2022): Malta to hold parliamentary election on March 26

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.

Scott Cullinane and Markus Ziener, German Marshall Fund (February 17, 2022): How Domestic Politics Drives the German-US Relationship

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.

David Levine and Daniel Hegedus, The Hill (February 22, 2022): OSCE member states must deliver on election observation mission for Hungary

Kati Marton, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (February 21, 2022): Hungary’s freedom election

Zsolt Enyedi, London School of Economics (February 21, 2022): Orbán’s great power politics

Lili Rutai, RFE/RL (February 21, 2022): A Tale Of Two Diasporas: The Battle For Hungarian Voters Abroad

Reuters (February 17, 2022): Hungary’s opposition leader flags higher family subsidies, fight against graft

Ábel Bede, Kafkadesk (February 16, 2022): Opinion: Hungary’s election won’t be the endgame both sides want it to be

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.

Tony Barber, Financial Times (February 20, 2022): Strongman rulers hold the upper hand in Hungary and Serbia: Elections are shaping up as unequal contests in a region shaken by democratic backsliding and security worries

Euractiv (February 18, 2022): Eight opposition parties sign agreement for a responsible Serbia

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.

AFP (February 23, 2022): France’s Macron to kick off re-election bid in March

Euronews with AFP (February 23, 2022): ‘Red alert!’ Le Pen suspends presidential field campaign as she struggles to secure key sponsorships

The Local (February 23, 2022): French elections: Is Marine Le Pen really halting her campaign?

Adam Sage, Times of London (February 22, 2022): French election 2022: Macron rivals fail to win backing for place in race: Marine Le Pen, Éric Zemmour and Jean-Luc Mélenchon are at risk of missing out

Benjamin Dodman, France24 (February 18, 2022): Low blows and a Royal snub: Struggling French left bemoans ‘ugly’ campaign

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.

ITV (February 22, 2022): ‘Real risk’ Stormont won’t return after election, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis warns

Owen Polley, The Telegraph (February 22, 2022): Unionists have fallen asleep at the wheel: Unless the Tories and the DUP get their act together immediately, Sinn Fein will storm the May elections

Benjamin Fox, Euractiv (February 21, 2022): Prepare for a united Ireland, says Sinn Fein

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.

Lidia Kurasinska, Forbes (February 23, 2022): As The World Watches Ukraine, Possibility Of Disintegration Looms In Bosnia

Lorne Cook, AP (February 21, 2022): EU vows to help prevent the possible breakup of Bosnia

RFE/RL (February 20, 2022): EU’s Borrell Says Bosnia ‘More Worrying Than Ever’ After Croats’ Election Threat

Borzou Daragahi, The Independent (February 17, 2022): ‘Creating chaos’: Russia fans flames in the Balkans to threaten EU and Nato

Montenegro Parliamentary Elections: By August 2024 (early elections possible in May following government collapse)

Montenegro is due to hold parliamentary elections by August 2024, but snap polls are possible. The last elections, the fifth since independence in 2006, took place in August 2020. Although the pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists, which has been in power for 30 years, won the most seats, they did not win a majority, and a coalition of opposition parties united to form a government. Zdravko Krivokapic from For the Future of Montenegro became the next prime minister. The political base of the Krivokapic’s coalition is generally pro-Moscow.

The government recently fell a no-confidence motion, which could lead to early elections in May. However, President Milo Djukanovic appears to be planning for a minority government, which has sparked protests.

Misha Savic, Bloomberg (February 23, 2022): Montenegro Protesters Demand Snap Ballot, Plan to Block Roads

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.

Next on the electoral calendar: Spain holds local and general elections in 2023.

Paul Kennedy and David Cutts, London School of Economics (February 22, 2022): What the Castilla-León elections told us about the trajectory of Spanish politics

Peter Wise, Financial Times (February 22, 2022): Spain opposition leader under fire as feud threatens poll prospects: PP chief Pablo Casado faces calls for leadership election as party infighting intensifies

The Local (February 19, 2022): Battle rages for control of Spain’s right-wing Popular Party

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Austria, Local Elections in Tyrol: February 27, 2022

Netherlands Local Elections: March 16, 2022

Malta Parliamentary Elections: March 26, 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

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