May 11, 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.
Kiel, capital of Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein state. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Nordenfan (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Upcoming Europe Elections
Germany 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.
Most recently, CDU won big in Schleswig-Holstein. The incumbent premier, CDU’s Daniel Günther, who heads a “Jamaica coalition” of CDU, FDP, and the Greens, will remain in office. CDU won 43 percent of the vote, an 11 percent gain over its 2017 results in the state. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) did not clear the 5 percent threshold to win seats.
Next up is North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, currently governed by a CDU-FDP coalition. NRW is seen as the bigger test for Scholz.
In March, Saarland held state elections. The incumbent government, a grand coalition of CDU and SPD, fell as SPD won a historic landslide.
Ben Knight, DW (May 10, 2022): German populism takes a blow: Both the far-right AfD and the socialist Left Party were punished by German voters in recent state elections. German populism has struggled in the wake of the Ukraine war.
Hans von der Burchard, Politico (May 8, 2022): Scholz’s Social Democrats suffer crushing defeat in northern German state vote
France 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 of the presidential election (by obtaining 500 signatures of elected officials). Pre-election polls were all over the place, but the runoff was a rematch between Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen, whom Macron defeated in 2017. Macron once again won. However, the upcoming legislative elections could create challenges for his agenda if his allies do not win a majority.
Aude Mazque, France24 (May 11, 2022): Explainer: How do France’s legislative elections work?
John Lichfield, Unherd (May 11, 2022): Can Mélenchon unite the French Left?
Romain Brunet, France24 (May 10, 2022): Historic coalition marks changing of the guard for French left ahead of legislative elections
Célia Belin and Agneska Bloch, Brookings Institution (May 6, 2022): Macron survives, but how long can the center hold in France?
The Local (May 5, 2022): Macron’s party announces name change and centrist alliance: French President Emmanuel Macron’s party has announced a name change and an alliance with two other centrist groups ahead of the parliamentary elections in June.
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. The tensions have gone Europe-wide as Croatia’s president has threatened to veto NATO membership for Finland and Sweden unless Bosnia changes its electoral code.
Giorgio Cafiero, TRT News (May 10, 2022): Russia’s divisive role in the Western Balkans: The view from Sarajevo
Maida Salkanovic, Balkan Insight (May 6, 2022): ‘It’s All Very Real’: Bosnian Women Politicians Unprotected against Online Abuse
Italy General Elections: By June 1, 2023
Italy is due to hold general elections by June 1, 2023, but as is ever the case with Italy, snap elections are possible. In January 2021, the then-government collapsed after former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his support. Former European Central Bank chief Mario “Super Mario” Draghi formed a government in February 2021, and a fragile stability has prevailed since then.
AP (May 10, 2022): Italian Leader Urges Ukraine Ceasefire in Visit With Biden: President Joe Biden has hosted Italian Premier Mario Draghi at the White House as the U.S. works to maintain trans-Atlantic unity over the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Chiara Albanese and Alessandro Speciale, Bloomberg (May 9, 2022): Draghi Has Started Unpicking Decades of Italian Ties to Russia: The Italian prime minister heads to Washington resolutely backing sanctions despite his country’s reliance on Russian energy
North Macedonia General Elections: 2024 (snap elections possible)
North Macedonia is due to hold general elections in 2024, but snap elections are possible. The opposition is calling for snap elections due to the results of the October 2021 local elections, which delivered a landslide victory for the conservative/nationalist opposition VMRO-DPMNE and resulted in the resignation of PM Zoran Zaev of the Social Democratic Union (SDSM).The last general elections were in July 2020 and SDSM won a second term.
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 remain fragmented and fractious.
Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight (May 10, 2022): Seeking Snap Polls, North Macedonia Opposition Aims to Paralyse Parliament
Past Europe Elections
United Kingdom Local Elections, including Northern Ireland Assembly: May 5, 2022
The United Kingdom held local elections for some local councils, as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly, on May 5.
Northern Ireland’s nationalist Sinn Féin became the biggest party in the Assembly following these elections. Although its candidates ran on bread and butter issues, the win could accelerate calls for a referendum on Northern Ireland’s status.
In England, the Liberal Democrats were the big winner, and the Conservatives lost several London councils that they had controlled for decades. Nonetheless, there were very few calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign.
London School of Economics (May 11, 2022): Much more than meh: The 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly Elections
AP (May 7, 2022): Sinn Fein celebrates an historic election win in Northern Ireland
Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023
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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