Europe This Week: March 2, 2022

March 2, 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.

Saint Gervais Church in the Marais district of Paris, France. The campaigns are heating up ahead of France’s April presidential election. Photo credit: Wikimedia/John Gillespie (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Netherlands Local Elections: March 16, 2022

Netherlands holds local elections on March 16, 2022. These follow the March 2021 parliamentary elections in which Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD once again won the most seats. Coalition negotiations continued for nearly six months after the elections. The parties finally announced that they would renew the four-party coalition, and remain in government. More

NL Times (March 1, 2022): Fewer local parties participating in large cities’ municipal 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.

First up is Saarland, which borders France and has in fact at times been part of France. The current government is a grand coalition of CDU and SPD.

Matteo Garavoglia, London School of Economics (March 2, 2022): The German Greens and the dangerous gap between national politics and supranational policymaking

Imanuel Marcus, Berlin Spectator (February 24, 2022): Germany: Saarland has agony of choice

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.

Anita Komuves and Gergely Szakacs, Reuters (March 1, 2022): Hungarians protest Ukraine invasion, Russian bank in Budapest

Justin Spike, AP (March 1, 2022): Hungary’s Orban faces pressure to cut close ties with Putin

Thomas Lorman, The Spectator (February 28, 2022): Viktor Orbán has played a perfect game with Putin

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.

RFE/RL (March 2, 2022): Serbia Twins Presidential Election With General Elections Being Held On April 3

Setla Miteva, Euractiv (March 1, 2022): Chess player Vucic is considering his next moves

Sasa Dragojlo, Balkan Insight (March 1, 2022): Serbian Far-Right Group to Hold Pro-Russia Rally

European Western Balkans (February 25, 2022): Official Belgrade silent, while the Serbian opposition is divided on the situation in Ukraine

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.

Connexion France (February 26, 2022): French election: Leftist Mélenchon reaches 500 backers with week left: It means he is now officially a candidate in the election. He has said he is relieved to pass the threshold before the deadline on March 4

Laura Kayali, Politico (February 25, 2022): Russia’s Ukraine invasion disrupts French presidential campaign

The Economist (February 25, 2022): Money matters take centre-stage in France’s election: The economy is healthy, the public finances are less so

Julie Tomiche, Politico (February 23, 2022): Barking mad: Dog votes in French right-wing primary – Party Les Républicains says it will sue French daily Libération over its investigation alleging voting from dead people — and a pup.

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.

Ian Bancroft, openDemocracy (February 27, 2022): As Russia invades Ukraine, the EU must seek to protect the Western Balkans: The region remains vulnerable to contagion from the crises in eastern Europe, and unattended problems will fester and mutate until it is too late

HINA (February 23, 2022): Izetbegović: It’s Still Possible to Delay Polls and Change Election Law

Cyprus Presidential Election: February 2023 (due)

Cyprus is due to hold a presidential election in February 2023. As the only fully presidential system in the European Union, this election is important as it will determine who actually holds power. Cyprus’s two biggest parties are the center-right Democratic Rally (DISY), affiliated with the European People’s Party, Centrist Democrat International, and the International Democrat Union, and the communist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). In the last presidential election, in 2018, DISY’s Nicos Anastasiades won re-election in the runoff, defeating AKEL’s Stavros Malas.

In the May 2021 parliamentary elections (which, in Cyprus, function more like midterms due to Cyprus’s presidential system), DISY maintained its majority, defeating the center-left AKEL, the main opposition party (with a number of smaller parties also competing). Notably, the far-right ELAM doubled its vote share from the 2016 elections, winning 6.8 percent of the vote.

The centrist Democratic Party (DIKO) typically places third in elections and can swing presidential votes based on whether they choose to field a candidate or back a candidate from AKEL or DISY.

Cyprus is divided between the mostly Greek-speaking south and the Turkish-speaking north, and both Greece and Turkey play in the country’s politics.

In-Cyprus (March 2, 2022): Akel-Diko leaders hold initial talks on 2023 presidential elections possible alliance

In-Cyprus (March 1, 2022): Achilleas Demetriades officially announces 2023 presidential elections bid

Nick Theodoulou, Cyprus Mail (February 28, 2022): Prominent Nicosia lawyer declares candidacy for 2023 elections

Jean Christou, Cyprus Mail (February 24, 2022): Economist think tank dubs Cyprus ‘a flawed democracy’

Finland Parliamentary Elections: By April 2023

Finland is due to hold parliamentary elections by April 2023. Following the 2019 parliamentary elections, a left-leaning coalition came into government nationally. At the same time, conservative National Coalition Party has placed first in various sets of local and county elections.

Finnish politics are currently taking place in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland was part of the Russian empire until 1917 (and ruled by Sweden before that), and has been neutral WWII, in which Russia invaded Finland thinking that it could conquer it quickly, only to get bogged down and beaten to a stalemate by Finnish farmers on skis (one of the famous snipers of that war, Simo Häyhä, is currently having a moment as an internet meme as Ukrainians resist Russia). As Russia ramps up its aggression, more and more Finns have expressed a desire to join NATO. More

Euronews with AFP (March 1, 2022): Ukraine war: MPs in Finland mull petition for a referendum on joining NATO

Melissa Heikkilä, Politico (February 28, 2022): Finnish lawmakers to discuss potential NATO membership: Prime Minister Sanna Marin also announced that Finland would provide Ukraine with lethal aid.

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.

Samir Kajosevic, Balkan Insight (March 2, 2022): Montenegro MPs Call for Minority Government Under Abazovic

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

Past Europe Elections

Austria, Local Elections in Tyrol: February 27, 2022

Austria’s state of Tyrol held local elections on February 27. These elections came in the context of Austria’s tough response to COVID-19, which some believe violates fundamental rights. As such, the anti-mandate People Freedom Fundamental Rights (MFG) won seats in many municipalities in these elections, and plans to continue fielding candidates at ll levels of Austrian politics.

On the federal front, Austria is due to hold a presidential election in Fall 2022, although in Austria’s parliamentary system, the role is largely ceremonial. Recently, the double resignation of center-right chancellor Sebastian Kurz and subsequently his successor, Alexander Schallenberg, has shaken politics. General elections to select the next government are not due until 2024, but snap elections remain possible. Various states also hold state and local elections in 2022 and 2023.

Amanda Previdelli, The Local (February 28, 2022): EXPLAINED: Who are MFG – Austria’s vaccine-sceptic party?: Austria’s MFG, formed in protest of Covid measures, won seats in 47 of 50 seats in Tyrol on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know

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.

Teresa Nogueira Pinto, GIS (March 2, 2022): What next for divided Spain? Spain’s government is in a fragile spot as its tax-and-spend policies dig it deeper into debt, while the population becomes more ideologically polarized.

Daniel Dombey and Peter Wise, Financial Times (February 28, 2022): Spain’s centre-right weakened by internal feud as it battles Vox threat: Fight inside PP and hard right’s strong poll showing have potential to reshape political landscape

Joseph Wilson and Aritz Parra, AP (February 24, 2022): Spain: Opposition party to choose new leader in April

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. More

Svetoslav Todorov, Balkan Insight (February 25, 2022): Ukraine Invasion Rekindles Divisions Over Russia in Bulgaria: Russia’s attack on Ukraine has reopened ancient divides over Russia in Bulgaria, with the defence minister downplaying Ukraine’s plight and others calling for his dismissal.

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

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

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