Europe This Week: June 15, 2022

June 15, 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 Hospices de Beaune, a charitable hospital founded in 1443 in Beaune, Burgundy (now part of France). Photo credit: Wikimedia/Olivier Vanpé (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Upcoming Europe Elections

France Legislative Runoffs: June 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 legislative elections could create challenges for his agenda if his allies do not win a majority.

Tracy McNicoll, France24 (June 14, 2022): Prizes abound for Le Pen’s far right in historic French legislative elections

France24 (June 13, 2022): Majority, hung parliament or ‘cohabitation’: Macron’s prospects uncertain after tight election

Peter O’Brien, Politico (June 13, 2022): Europe Minister Beaune among top officials at risk in French parliamentary election

AP (June 12, 202): France holds parliamentary election in vital test for Macron

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.

Fernando Heller, Euractiv (June 14, 2022): Center-right set for landslide victory in Andalusia, poll finds

Aitor Hernández-Morales, Politico (June 13, 2022): Spain’s pop polarizer: The unlikely rise of Isabel Díaz Ayuso

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.

Al Jazeera (June 15, 2022): Germany to redeploy troops to Bosnia over ‘stability’ concerns

Joshua Hammer, New York Times (June 14, 2022): Bosnia on the Brink: Caught up in a 21st-century stew of ethnonationalism and fake history, the country’s Serbs are now endangering its fragile peace

European Western Balkans (June 13, 2022): Bosnian leaders accept in Brussels agreement on ensuring country’s functionality and EU path

Azem Kurtic, Balkan Insight (June 13, 2022): Party Leaders Pledge to Build Stable, EU-Oriented Bosnia

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.

Nektaria Stamouli, Politico (June 9, 2022): Cyprus has gas for Europe. A decades-old conflict is keeping it untouched: Europe is looking for ways to wean itself off Russian gas. But Turkey and Greece can’t agree on how to extract gas from Europe’s own territory

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

Pekka Vanttinen, Euractiv (June 13, 2022): Estonian populists drop governing hopes, set sights on 2023 elections

Ott Tammik, Bloomberg (June 11, 2022): Estonia’s Kallas Stays in Power As New Coalition Talks Begin

Past Europe Elections

Italy Local Elections: June 12, 2022

Italy held local elections in some areas on June 12, 2022. In total, 980 out of the country’s 7,904 municipalities voted, including 26 provincial capitals.

The country 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.

Hannah Roberts, Politico (June 14, 2022): 5 things we learned from Italy’s local elections

Gavin Jones, Reuters (June 12, 2022): Italian far-right leader Meloni eyes breakthrough in mayoral votes

Nick Squires, The Telegraph (June 11, 2022): Far-Right Brothers of Italy set to cement its place as country’s most popular party

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.

Cera Murtagh, Washington Post (June 14, 2022): Northern Ireland is politically divided. Maybe that’s changing

Conor Donnan, Foreign Policy Research Institute (June 14, 2022): Sinn Féin’s Victory in Northern Ireland: Has Their Day Come?

AFP (June 13, 2022): UK sets up EU battle with N.Ireland changes

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.

Michael Colborne, Bellingcat (June 15, 2022): How Janez Janša’s Media Empire Pushed Slovenia’s Extremes into the Mainstream

Serbia Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: April 3, 2022

Serbia held 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. President Alexander Vucic won re-election.

The previous elections, snap parliamentary elections in June 2020, took place in a climate of mistrust. Many opposition parties boycotted, and therefore, 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.

Milica Stojanovic, Balkan Insight (June 15, 2022): Serbia Leader Scorns EU Call for Mutual Recognition with Kosovo

Maxim Samorukov, Carnegie Endowment (June 10, 2022): Last Friend in Europe: How Far Will Russia Go to Preserve Its Alliance With Serbia?

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

Marton Dunai, Financial Times (June 16, 2022): Bulgarian government crisis opens door to pro-Russian hard right

Krassen Nikolov, Euractiv (June 15, 2022): Bulgarian PM needs seven MPs to save government

Reuters (June 13, 2022): Bulgarian foreign, energy ministers quit, deepening coalition crisis

Emerging Europe (June 10, 2022): Bulgaria’s PM left in limbo as coalition partner leaves government

Slovakia Parliamentary Elections: February 29, 2020

Slovakia held parliamentary elections in February 2020, won by a coalition of then-opposition parties running on an anti-corruption platform, defeating the then-incumbent populists and ousting Prime Minister Robert Fico. More

Daniel Hornak, Bloomberg (June 10, 2022): Slovak Populist Fico Seeks Return to Power With Referendum Push

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

France Legislative Runoffs: June 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

Luxembourg Local Elections: June 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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