Europe has had little to no time to recover from a big year of elections in 2017, as 2018 attentively welcomes a new round of politics.
This year will see the return of Europe’s political big hitters including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Italy’s scandal-hit Silvio Berlusconi, while Hungary’s Viktor Orban is set to dominate the polls for re-election.
Simultaneously, the EU prepares for elections in the Czech Republic amidst fear the nation may join rebellious Central European countries Hungary and Poland.
Czech presidential elections – January 12-13
The provocative, outspoken president Milos Zeman hopes to win another term after becoming the first Czech president to be directly elected in 2013. If he wins, it may be even harder for the European Commission to have the Czech Republic acknowledge and demonstrate attitudes that fall in line with the Commission on issues like immigration and gun control.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš vowed to run the Czech Republic like a “family firm” and due to his anti-establishment message and business background, he has been compared to US President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, Zeman echoed the recent comments by Hungary’s Viktor Orban, linking the incursion of migrants from the Middle East to a rise in the terror threat towards Europe.
Italian general election – March 4
Italy will elect new members to both chambers at the same time a controversial electoral law will be introduced. The law encourages coalition building ahead of the vote, meaning that former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi should appear as the single largest political force.
Polls indicate that anti-EU 5Star movement has built a steady lead over other parties — the support being at around 28 percent in opposition to, 24 percent for the ruling Democratic Party (PD), and 15 for Forza Italia.
Berlusconi has made a comeback this election, ready to lead his centre-right Forza Italia, despite going through a very public divorce in 2014 following several sex scandals and being ousted from public officer after a tax fraud conviction in 2013.
Russia elections – March 18
President Putin a figure whose been in positions of power for almost 18 years, is expected to be re-elected with an exceeding majority.
With approval ratings remaining above 80 percent, Putin doesn’t face much competition.
This comes after his main opponent, Alexei Navalny, was restricted from standing in the poll due to a conviction for embezzlement. Navalny calls this a political move to stop him from challenging Putin.
Swedish general election – September 9
Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven hopes to claim another term and the polls indicate his party remains steadily ahead.
Albeit, his Green party coalition members have been ranking low in the polls — around the bottom 4 percent threshold to enter the Riksdag (parliament). This means Löfven may need to form an alliance with the conservative Moderates.
Concurrently, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats have been making large gains since a surge in support at the 2014 elections.
Polish local elections – Late 2018
These elections are set to take place almost a year after the EU Commission threatened to strip Warsaw of voting rights after multiple judicial reforms.
The state is currently on a collision course with Brussels, claiming the reforms, which see the Polish government gain significant control over the courts, are a threat to democracy.
The EU Commission gave Warsaw’s Law and Justice (PiS) party three months to reverse the electoral reforms.
Photo: AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTIEV