European elections to watch in 2022

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From EU reformer Emmanuel Macron to EU troublemaker Viktor Orbán, some of the Union’s most vocal supporters and critics face tough electoral challenges at home in 2022 that could shake political dynamism across the continent.

European hopes for closer collaboration with Washington are also likely to be sidelined as the US descends in mid-November elections – a major test for Joe Biden that could result in one or both Houses of Congress taking ownership of his Democratic Party change a blow to the president’s ability to pass laws.

POLITICO has put together a quick guide to some of the top European elections to watch in 2022.

General elections in Portugal – January 30th

What is at stake: Socialist Prime Minister António Costa hopes to stay in power in this early election, which was proclaimed in an important budget vote after the defeat of his minority government.

Who can be seen: Costa’s worst rival is Rui Rio, president of Portugal’s largest center-right opposition party, the Social Democrats (PSD). Costa’s Socialist Party (PS) is still way ahead in opinion polls, with around 37 percent versus the 30 percent of the Social Democrats, but this gap is slowly increasing narrowed in recent months and such results would mean that both parties would have to join forces with others to form a majority coalition. During the budget vote that sparked the election, Costa lost the support of two left-wing parties that had allowed his government to stay in power, the Communist Party and the Bloc Left. Rio has expressed its openness Enabling a socialist-led government after the election, but Costa did declined negotiate with the center right.

Meanwhile, the right-wing extremist Chega (meaning “enough”) party, which previously only had one seat in parliament, could become the third largest party there with around 7 percent.


More survey data from across Europe can be found at POLITICS Poll of polls.

Serbian Parliamentary Elections – April 3rd

What is at stake: Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has been the most prominent political figure in Serbia for the past decade, but critics inside and outside the country consider him too dominant. Academics, human rights activists, Western diplomats and opposition politicians say he has committed serious relapses on democracy, freedom and the rule of law. The country held parliamentary elections in 2020, but Vučić did announced a new one would take place ahead of time – even before a new government was determined after the last vote. Analysts have said this early election call appeared to be a strategic move by Vučić to bolster legitimacy after opponents boycotted the previous vote. It is also said to coincide with the presidential election.

Elections in France – presidential elections April 10th and 24th, parliamentary elections June 12th and 19th

What is at stake: Emmanuel Macron wants to be re-elected in the presidential election in April before the country decides on a new parliament in June. Even if Macron wins a second term, the parliamentary vote will be crucial to implement the changes he is seeking, but the defeats of his centrist party La République en Marche in the local elections since taking office in June bodes ill for them.

Who can be seen: Polls predict that Macron, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy but is expected to do so at the beginning of the new year, will survive the first round of voting. The question is who he will meet in the second round. Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally had long been pegged to become its top rival again in a 2017 iteration, but her popularity was threatened by the rise of another far-right figure, TV expert and politician Eric Zemmour and the conservative candidate of Les Républicains, Valérie Pécresse, who has risen sharply in the polls, some are now even ahead of Le Pen. No matter whether Macron takes on Le Pen or Pécrese, he is currently still expected to win, but with a much smaller lead than his first choice: 57 percent to 43 percent against Le Pen and 53 percent to 47 percent against Pécresse compared to the 32.2 percentage point victory he secured in 2017.


More survey data from across Europe can be found at POLITICS Poll of polls.

Parliamentary elections in Hungary – probably in April

What is at stake: Hungary’s longtime right-wing populist leader Viktor Orbán faces his toughest election since returning for a second term as prime minister in 2010. For the first time, his opponents have come together to force him out of office with a single candidate.

A victory for the opposition would change the political temperature in Budapest, but also the dynamics of EU meetings with other member states, in which Hungary has often played the role of rebel. Given Orbán’s connections to Beijing and Moscow, this would also have geopolitical implications. A new government would likely be more oriented towards the EU, the US and NATO. However, a victory for Orbán would cement his power and allow him to continue building an alliance of far-right and Eurosceptic forces across the continent.

Who can be seen: Orbán’s Fidesz party will face the diverse coalition of the United Opposition, led by Péter Márki-Zay, Conservative Mayor of the southern city of Hódmezővásárhely. Polls have predicted a head-to-head race, with Fidesz just ahead of the United Opposition at 46 percent in mid-December with around 48 percent support. To win, Márki-Zay must keep his largely left-wing coalition without alienating more conservative voters who might be tempted by Fidesz. To actually rule, he would also have to juggle the competing interests and worldviews of his alliance.


More survey data from across Europe can be found at POLITICS Poll of polls.

Elections in Slovenia – parliamentary vote on April 24th, presidential election by October

What is at stake: Janez Janša, a close ally of Orbán, will also face an election task this spring before the country will later elect a new president. The current President Borut Pahor cannot be re-elected due to the term restrictions.

Who can be seen: Janša took up his third term in March 2020 amid the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, having cobbled together an alliance of four parties following the collapse of the previous center-left government. But his own coalition soon began to crumble with the retirement of the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) last December. quote the government’s handling of the pandemic; and concerns about media restrictions and other rule of law issues. Such concerns have also raised questions about the Prime Minister’s political future.

Janša’s main competitor is Tanja Fajon, leader of the Slovenian Social Democrats (SD) and currently a member of the European Parliament. In the polls, the SD is behind Janša’s right-wing populist Slovene Democratic Party (SDS), but Janša’s opponents to hope that they can defeat him by forming groups.


More survey data from across Europe can be found at POLITICS Poll of polls.

Northern Ireland Elections – May 5th or earlier

What is at stake: That vote could come earlier than expected: Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Jeffrey Donaldson has threatened to withdraw from the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland and trigger early elections due to the ongoing dispute between the UK and the EU over post-Brexit trade deals in Northern Ireland. The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol aims to preserve the integrity of the EU internal market after Brexit while avoiding a politically sensitive hard border between Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state. London and Brussels continue to argue over the application of the protocol amid political controversy in Northern Ireland and complaints from traders in the UK about its rules. Dublin has expressed concern that the upcoming vote in Northern Ireland could essentially turn into a referendum on minutes.

Irish nationalist party Sinn Féin is expected to do well in the Northern Irish Assembly elections, possibly overtaking the DUP as the largest party and therefore causing concern among unionists. With the party too More and more popular south of the border in the republic, some analysts say the prospect of a united Ireland has long been touted Sinn Féin doesn’t seem far-fetched anymore.

Swedish General Election – September 11th

What is at stake: Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s newly sworn first female prime minister, hopes to lead her Social Democrats to victory in the September elections, but faces a grave threat from the right. Her predecessor, Stefan Löfven, resigned last November, in the hope that the appointment of a new party chairman a few months before the election could offer the opportunity for a fresh start with voters for his party and overcome the recent blockade in parliament. But Andersson now faces a number of tough challenges in order to achieve this.

Who can be seen: Andersson’s main competitor is center-right moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson, and the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) under Jimmie Kesson are determined to oust them in Kristersson’s favor. The Social Democrats lead the polls by around 30 percent approval (as of mid-December), but some of their traditional allies like the Greens are below the 4 percent threshold to win seats. Kristersson has pointed out that the loose group he leads – three center-right parties plus SD – only needs one more parliamentary seat than it currently has to take over in September. “I’m looking forward to election day,” Kristersson said recently.


More survey data from across Europe can be found at POLITICS Poll of polls.

Observe other elections

General election in Malta – date not set

Austrian presidential election – date not yet set

Parliamentary elections in Latvia – October 1

Parliamentary elections in Bosnia – October 2nd

US midterm elections – November 8th


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