European Elections to Watch Out for in 2018

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We have just witnessed Milos Zeman secure his second presidential term in the Czech presidential elections at the beginning of this year. Worryingly, his viewpoints on the EU seem to display an interesting case of multiple personality disorder. On the one hand, we have seen him raise the EU flag over the Prague Castle at the beginning of his first term. On the other hand, Zeman has been an active campaigner against EU’s migration policy while rallying the country against joining the Euro. Joining him in potentially forming a larger-than-life Europe’s Far Right on the occasion of the 2018 elections are Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Sweden’s Stefan Löfven.

Italy 

March 4 marks the day when Italians will begin voting in order to form a new Parliament. What is even more interesting about this general election is the introduction of a very much contended electoral law which gave rise to a new label for the newly formed electoral system, namely Rosatellum. This law favours coalitions over individual parties and it’s very likely to be in the advantage of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and their promising ally, the Northern League of Matteo Salvini. Therefore, the centre-rightbloc seems to emerge as the largest political entity in the March elections regardless of Berlusconi’s ongoing trial on bribing of witnesses in his various sex scandals and his 2013 tax fraud conviction. For Europe, however, Berlusconi’s strong stance against the EU, austerity and the eurozone is what carries seems to be particularly disquieting.

Russia

If March doesn’t seem like eventful enough in terms of Europe’s weighty elections, the Russian presidential election exactly a fortnight later than the Italian general one is added into the mix. Putin’s 18-year long reign has an overwhelming chance of holding sway even in the post March 18th era. His approval rating surpasses 80% with a significant margin, being 20% more popular than at the initial exit polls at the elections in 2012.

Hungary

A jam-packed and very interesting spring political season is anticipated in 2018 asthe next election which is likely to shake Europe to its core is the Hungarian parliamentary election of 8 April.Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his party, Fidesz, is set to win the parliamentary elections over the far-right Jobbik party. If that happens, Fidesz is very likely to gain a two-third majority in the parliament which should be just enough to start making changes to the constitution. Currently, Orban’s party is not in possession of such a majority as a consequence of their loss in the 2015 by-election.

Sweden

There is a win in the cards for Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, leader of the Social Democrats in the September general elections of Sweden. Or so it has been forecasted until recently. Recent polls are showing a very low ranking for the Green party, the Social Democrats’ coalition members which gives room for the far-right, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats of Jimmie Akesson to win the elections. Should this doomsday scenario take shape, we would be witnessing a weakening of the European left in favour of an Euroskeptic right which could ultimately disturb the entire EU establishment.

Source: Politico

Regardless of the outcomes in these upcoming elections, one thing can be stated with certainty – the revamping of the EU political vibe is bound to happen one way or another sooner or later. This is particularly dangerous when considering Russia’s influence on the continent. That is to say, in the likelihood that more far-right presidential candidates and political parties are winning the majority of votes, Europe will no longer be in the position of presenting a unified front on the sanctions against Russia and on the Minsk process. Conceivably, this could threaten the very fabric of unity in the EU.

Alina Toporas
Alina Toporas
Alina Toporas is a recent Master of Science graduate in Global Crime, Justice and Security at the University of Edinburgh Law School. She has previously worked for the European Commission Representation in Scotland, the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA), the Romanian Embassy in Croatia and Hagar International (the Vietnamese branch). She is currently serving as a Communications Assistant of the British Embassy in Romania. Her research interests are mainly targeted at the EU-UK cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) post-Brexit. Alina is also the author of various pieces on transnational crimes (namely, human trafficking and illicit trade) with a geographical focus on South-East Asia.

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