Europe This Week: March 30, 2022

March 30, 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.

Heroes’ Square in Budapest, Hungary. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Sveter (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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.

Lili Bayer, Politico (March 31, 2022): Despite Putin ties, Hungarian PM Orbán leads election field

Edit Inotai, Balkan Insight (March 31, 2022): Polls Point to 4th Consecutive Victory for Hungary’s Prime Minister

Justin Spike, AP (March 29, 2022): Volunteer vote-counters push for Hungary election integrity

AFP (March 27, 2022): Activists mobilise over Hungary election fraud fears

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.

bne IntelliNews (March 30, 2022): Serbia’s general and presidential elections to be a clash of generations

Aleks Eror, openDemocracy (March 30, 2022): Serbia’s elections present a dilemma for the EU: As tensions with Russia rise, Brussels must decide whether it wants to continue backing an increasingly autocratic government in Belgrade

Edward P. Joseph, Balkan Insight (March 25, 2022): Kosovo’s Kurti Has Created Own Goal Over Serbian Elections

Dimitar Bechev, War on the Rocks (March 24, 2022): War Won’t Be Coming Back to the Balkans

Marton Dunai, Financial Times (March 15, 2022): Serbia under pressure to choose EU as Ukraine war raises stakes for Vucic

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.

In total, 12 candidates qualified for the first round ballot (by obtaining 500 signatures of elected officials). 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 was polling in second for a long time, and could very realistically beat both of the far-right candidates and make it to the runoff. Far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, whose rallies sometimes feature “smell effects,” has risen to third place in the polls in the weeks before the election.

Cornelius Hirsch, Politico (March 30, 2022): 5 charts to help you read the French presidential election: With polls pointing to Emmanuel Macron’s likely reelection, turnout could be low … and that could help spring a surprise.

Gilles Paris, Le Monde (March 29, 2022): The slow fall of Eric Zemmour: The campaign of far-right candidate Eric Zemmour seemed to be going from strength to strength – until it wasn’t.

Silvia Amaro, CNBC (March 28, 2022): The French election is just two weeks away — and Russia’s invasion is overshadowing the vote

France24 (March 16, 2022): French government floats Corsican ‘autonomy’ as unrest jolts election campaign

Kim Willsher, The Guardian (March 12, 2022): Macron revels in ‘Falklands effect’ as wartime role boosts re-election chances

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.

RTE (March 29, 2022): Sinn Féin launches Stormont Assembly election campaign

Shawn Pogatchnik, Politico (March 25, 2022): Belfast bomb threat disrupts Irish foreign minister’s peace speech

Bloomberg/The Press Association (March 19, 2022): DUP Leader Accuses Sinn Fein of Pushing ‘Radical All-Ireland Agenda’

Katy Balls, The Spectator (March 15, 2022): Tory unease builds over the Northern Ireland protocol

RTE (March 13, 2022): Protocol issue unlikely to be fixed before Stormont elections – Taoiseach

Sweden Parliamentary Elections: September 11, 2022

Sweden holds general elections on September 11, 2022.

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, succeeded him and became Sweden’s first female prime minister. (March 28, 2022): Sweden’s Moderates make joining Nato their number one election pledge

Charles Szumski, Euractiv (March 24, 2022): Opposition leader: ‘No longer neutral’ Sweden must apply for NATO membership

Victor Jack and Joshua Posaner, Politico (March 23, 2022): EU commissioner: Sweden should not join NATO through a referendum

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.

Vlagyiszlav Makszimov, Euractiv (March 25, 2022): Bosnia’s election law unexpectedly on the table at European leaders’ meeting

Zeljko Trkanjec, Euractiv (March 22, 2022): US Embassy to Bosnia: Elections must be held on time

Mersiha Gadzo, Al Jazeera (March 19, 2022): Can Bosnia’s Dayton Peace Agreement be reformed?

RFE/RL (March 10, 2022): Bosnia Asks For Accelerated Start Of EU Membership Talks

Past 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, headed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz from SPD.

First up was Saarland, which borders France and has in fact at times been part of France. The government prior to the elections was grand coalition of CDU and SPD, but SPD won an absolute majority and will head the next government, a big win for Scholz. CDU had headed Saarland governments since 1999 (albeit in coalition with other parties). Thus SPD winning an outright majority is a big deal.

Andreas Rinke and Sarah Marsh, Reuters (March 27, 2022): German SPD wins Saarland vote in boost for Scholz

Malta Parliamentary Elections: March 26, 2022

Malta held 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 won handily and will serve a third term.

AFP (March 31, 2022): Pope heads to Catholic Malta with migrant message

Bjarke Smith-Meyer, Politico (Mach 27, 2022): Malta’s Labour Party wins landslide election victory

Christopher Scicluna, Reuters (March 24, 2022): Malta’s Labour expected to win again despite scandals

AFP (March 24, 2022): Malta votes in shadow of Ukraine, corruption scandals

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

Christian Oliver, Politico (March 23, 2022): Arrest of Bulgaria’s Borissov marks start of major EU rule-of-law showdown

Spasimir Domaradzki, CEPA (March 22, 2022): Bulgaria: The Skull’s Revenge

Boryana Dzhambazova, Politico (March 21, 2022): Ukraine war exposes the Kremlin’s lingering reach in Bulgaria: New Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has to navigate a complex history of ties to Moscow and has already had to fire his defense minister.

Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian (March 20, 2022): ‘I will free Bulgaria from corruption’: Kiril Petkov speaks out

Reuters (March 18, 2022): Bulgaria’s former PM Borissov released from custody without charge

Marton Dunai, Financial Times (March 18, 2022): Bulgaria’s former prime minister Boyko Borisov detained by police: Arrest carried out in connection with probe by European Public Prosecutor’s Office

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

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.

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