Europe This Week: May 18, 2022

May 18, 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.

The entrance to the old citadel in Berat, Albania. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Jason Rogers (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

Albania Presidential Election (indirect): Ongoing

Albania’s indirect presidential election began on May 16, 2022 and will continue until parliament chooses a candidate.

Albania held parliamentary elections on April 25, 2021 in a tense political climate with several violent incidents. The elections were close, and the incumbent Socialist Party won a third term in office, defeating the main opposition center-right Democratic Party. 

After World War II, Albania became an isolationist communist dictatorship, one of the most brutal regimes in the world. However, since communism collapsed in 1990, the country has held competitive elections and several transitions of power between political parties. Albania joined NATO in 2009 and is currently a candidate for EU membership. While Albania has had less engagement with China than other countries in the Western Balkans, Beijing is trying to make inroads.  More

AP (May 16, 2022): Albanian Parliament Fails to Elect a President in 1st Vote: The Albanian Parliament has failed to elect the country’s next president after no candidates were nominated for the first round of voting

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.

Sylvie Corbet and Thomas Adamson, AP (May 16, 2022): Macron names Elisabeth Borne as France’s new prime minister

Reuters (May 16, 2022): Who is France’s new Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne?

Jonathan Miller, The Spectator (May 15, 2022): Macron’s main opponent is now Mélenchon, not Le Pen

Elaine Ganley, AP (May 14, 2022): Emmanuel who? Far-right fighting hard-left for French vote

Clea Caulcutt, Politico (May 12, 2022): Mélenchon’s campaign launch overshadowed by alleged sexual assault case: Jean-Luc Mélenchon is launching the parliamentary campaign of his new left-wing alliance amid controversy over one of its candidates

Reuters (May 12, 2022): French far-right’s Zemmour to run for seat in parliament

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.

European Western Balkans (May 19, 2022): EU condemns the failure of ministers in BiH to ensure financing of elections

Foreign Policy (May 18, 2022): Bosnia’s Dangerous Path: How U.S. Policy Is Making a Bad Situation Worse

Germany 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.

Next up: Lower Saxony goes to the polls on October 8. The current government is led by SPD, in coalition with CDU.

Most recently, CDU won the May 15 state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, currently governed by a CDU-FDP coalition. NRW was seen as a test for Scholz, and SPD fell short. CDU could potentially form a new coalition with the Greens, who doubled their vote share, as FDP and CDU together do not have enough seats to continue their coalition.

Before that, 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.

In March, Saarland held state elections. The incumbent government, a grand coalition of CDU and SPD, fell as SPD won a historic landslide.

AP (May 16, 2022): Scholz’s Party Keeps Ukraine Policy Despite State Vote Loss

Brian Melican, The Local (May 16, 2022): Why the Greens are the real winners of Germany’s state elections

Hans von der Burchard, Politico (May 15, 2022): Scholz’s SPD gets another shellacking in key German state election

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

Max Seddon and Richard Milne, Financial Times (May 16, 2022): Putin signals acceptance of Finland and Sweden joining Nato: Russia warns of response if alliance sites military equipment on new territories and Turkey objections remain hurdle

PBS Newshour (May 15, 2022 – video): News Wrap: Finland declares its intention to join the NATO alliance

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.

Padraic Halpin, Reuters (May 18, 2022): Sinn Fein’s McDonald says ‘bad faith’ UK government boosts united Ireland case

Stephen O’Brien, Times of London (May 15, 2022): Sinn Fein enjoys bounce in poll after assembly elections

John Garry, Brendan O’Leary and James Pow, London School of Economics (May 11, 2022): Much more than meh: The 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly Elections

Shawn Pogatchnik, Politico (May 11, 2022): DUP threatens to shut down Northern Ireland Assembly too amid Brexit rules row: Jeffrey Donaldson suggests he’ll block election of a Stormont speaker unless Britain suspends the post-Brexit trade protocol

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.

Prior to the parliamentary elections, parliament elected Katalin Novak from Fidesz to the presidency, which is largely a ceremonial role in Hungary.

Michael O’Shea, Newsweek (May 18, 2022): Time to Reset U.S.-Hungary Relations | Opinion

Reuters (May 14, 2022): Hungary’s new president condemns Putin’s ‘aggression’, plans trip to Warsaw

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Albania Presidential Election (indirect): Ongoing

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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