Europe This Week: June 8, 2022

June 8, 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.

Street signs in Tirana, Albania. Albania’s parliament just elected a new president in a vote boycotted by much of the opposition. Photo credit: Flickr/amanderson2 (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Europe Elections

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.

Florence Villeminot, France24 (June 8, 2022): France votes again: What’s at stake in the legislative elections?

Reuters (June 8, 2022): Poll shows French President Macron’s bloc ahead in parliamentary election

Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian (June 8, 2022): Fatal police shooting of woman in Paris sparks political row

Michael Wohlgemuth, GIS (June 6, 2022): After the French elections, what kind of Europe?

Matthew Lynn, The Telegraph (June 6, 2022): The French far-Left is the biggest threat to the euro: Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s rise shows that parliamentary elections could hardly have come at a worse time for Macron

Tony Barber, Financial Times (June 4, 2022): The strange death of the moderate French left: Old-style social democracy is in trouble in much of Europe but nowhere more so than in France

Romain Brunet and Benjamin Dodman, France24 (June 2, 2022): ‘Proud to be amateurs’: Five years on, have Macron’s political novices delivered?

Spain, Regional Elections in Andalusia: June 19, 2022

Andalusia, Spain’s most populous region, holds elections on June 19. The last elections, in 2018, delivered a surprising victory for the right, ending 36 years of socialist rule.

Conor Faulkner, The Local (June 5, 2022): Andalusia’s regional elections: Who will win and why it matters for Spain

Laura Zornoza, Euractive (June 2, 2022): Spain’s centre-right leader confident of general election win

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.

Most recently, Sweden (and Finland) begun debates about joining NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The opposition Moderates, Sweden’s main center-right party, have said they support this, while the incumbent Social Democrats are split.

Niclas Rolander, Bloomberg (June 3, 2022): Swedish Leader May Be Sunk by Kurd Lawmaker Who Irks Turkey

Ranj Alaaldin, Brookings Institution (June 3, 2022): Turkey’s threat to derail Swedish and Finnish NATO accession reraises the Kurdish question

Latvia Parliamentary Elections: October 1, 2022

Latvia holds parliamentary elections on October 1, 2022. These follow last year’s local elections, which saw a record low turnout and a fragmented result.

Latvia has been a democracy since regaining independence in 1991 (of note, none of the three Baltic nations ever actually recognized the Soviet occupation), and is a member of NATO and the European Union.

These elections are happening in a heated geopolitical climate. Last year’s Riga snap elections surprised political observers by knocking, Harmony, the party that Latvia’s Russian community supports, from the top spot. Harmony has historically been strong in Riga, the capital, but last year’s Riga elections surprised political observers by knocking Harmony down from the top spot. Instead, an alliance of the liberal Development/For! party and social democrat environmentalist Progressives won the most seats and formed the local government. More

LETA (June 8, 2022): Ratings of Latvian political parties indicate positive changes for two

Latvian Public Broadcasting (June 5, 2022): Pre-election campaign period kicks off in Latvia

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.

Jean-Charles Putzolu, Vatican News (June 8, 2022): Bosnia-Herzegovina: The war visible in a museum, 30 years on

Emir Velic, Transitions Online (June 7, 2022): Mostar City Hall Flounders in the Deep End

Reuters (June 7, 2022): Bosnia’s international envoy imposes decision on financing general election

Sofija Popović, European Western Balkans (June 3, 2022): Problem with election financing: New political obstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Denmark General Elections: By June 4, 2023

Denmark is due to hold general elections by June 4, 2023. The current government consists of the Social Democrats, with confidence and supply from several other left-of-center parties, led by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. This government came to power following the 2019 elections, which saw the defeat of Lars Løkke Rasmussen‘s center-right coalition. 

In a referendum on June 1, Danes voted overwhelmingly to join the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy. Denmark had previously been the only EU member state not to be a part of the defense pact, part of the current trend of countries moving toward greater security integration in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Bloomberg (June 5, 2022): Denmark’s Prime Minister Says She’s Open to a Grand Coalition

Christian Wienberg, Stratfor (June 3, 2022): The Significance of Denmark Ending Its EU Defense Opt-Out

Euractiv with Reuters (June 2, 2022): Denmark to join EU defence policy after historic vote

Estonia Parliamentary Elections: By March 5, 2023

Estonia is due to hold parliamentary elections by March 5, 2023, but snap elections are possible due to an ongoing crisis.

Since January 2021, Estonia’s government has been a grand coalition of the center-right Reform Party and the centrist Centre Party, which has historically been supported by Estonia’s Russian community. Following the 2019 elections, Centre shocked the country by forming a government with the far-right EKRE, but PM Juri Ratas was forced to resign in January 2021 following a real estate scandal. Subsequently, Reform – previously in opposition – formed a coalition with Centre as the junior partner, making Reform’s Kaja Kallas Estonia’s first female prime minister. 

However, in June 2022, Centre withdrew from the government. Kallas must now find more coalition partners in order to prevent the government from collapsing, which would trigger early elections.

This is all happening in the context of major security concerns. Because Estonia is a poster child for a successful post-communist transition to democracy, Russia has for a long time targeted the country with cyberattacks and other provocations. In the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, security concerns are at the top of Estonians’ minds. More

Ott Tammik, Bloomberg (June 6, 2022): Putin Critic Kallas Needs New Estonian Allies to Keep Power

AFP (June 3, 2022): Estonian government in crisis as coalition crumbles

Past Europe Elections

Albania Presidential Election (indirect): Ongoing

Albania’s indirect presidential election began on May 16, 2022 and continued until parliament chose General Major Bajram Begaj after failing to choose a compromise candidate. Most of the opposition boycotted the voting.

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 (June 4, 2022): Albania Elects Top General as the Country’s New President

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. Johnson subsequently faced a no-confidence motion, which he survived.

Tara John, Ivana Kottasová, Rob Picheta, and Luke McGee, CNN (June 7, 2022): British Prime Minister Boris Johnson squeaks through confidence vote but faces battle for survival

Slovenia Parliamentary Elections: April 24, 2022

Slovenia held general elections on April 24, 2022. The incumbent government, a conservative minority coalition headed by populist Janez Janša (which came to power in January 2020 after the center-left minority government of Marjan Šarec collapsed) lost. Political newcomer Robert Golob, who founded the liberal Freedom Movement in January, won on a platform of restoring press freedoms and democratic institutions – Janša had been accused of authoritarian backsliding during his time in office.

Alem Maksuti, Balkan Insight (June 3, 2022): Slovenia’s New Govt Has Fighting Chance to Restore Normality

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. Most recently, it cut off gas exports to Bulgaria (and Poland) in retaliation for EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Bulgaria now faces the possibility of yet another set of early elections following ITN’s withdrawal from the coalition, sparked by the PM’s plans to lift the veto on North Macedonia joining the EU. More

Georgi Gotev and Krassen Nikolov, Euractiv (June 8, 2022): North Macedonia issue triggers political earthquake in Bulgaria

Christian Oliver, Politico (June 8, 2022): Bulgaria lurches back to political discord as PM Petkov faces loss of majority: Kiril Petkov has taken a robustly pro-NATO position on the conflict in Ukraine — in a country where Russian ties run deep

Svetoslav Todorov, Balkan Insight (June 8, 2022): Bulgarian Ruling Coalition Cracks over North Macedonia Dispute

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

France Legislative Elections: June 12 and 19, 2022

Croatia, Early Local Elections in Split: June 26, 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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