This post provides a monthly overview for April of the most recent electoral happenings on the Who Governs Europe? website, at http://www.whogovernseurope.com. The Who Governs Europe? website is dedicated to documenting electoral developments in Europe. The blog also features individual country profiles and regular previews and reviews of major elections taking place across the 27 European Union Member States.
Recent polls from the French presidential election suggest that the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy still has some way to go to convince the French electorate that he should be given five more years in power. Going into the campaign Sarkozy trailed the front runner, Socialist François Hollande, in some polls by almost 15% and, although much of this has been recovered, it seems that it still may not be enough. Some polls show that Sarkozy could in fact win the first round of voting, a marked change from only a few months ago when it was suggested that he would finish third, but samples on a second round contest between Sarkozy and Hollande still show the latter with a 6 to 8% lead. Similarly, the fortunes of the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen, have swung from her being thought a possibility for making the second round of voting to now being predicted to finish fourth, behind the far left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. France goes to the polls for the first round of voting on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Greece has dissolved its parliament in preparation for a general election that will take place on Sunday 6th May. Former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos will lead the PASOK party against New Democracy, led by Antonis Samaras. Current polls suggest that New Democracy lead PASOK by around 5%, but that the two main parties combined may only achieve 29.5% of the vote, which would prove too small to implement austerity measures needed as part of the European bail-out package. Smaller parties opposed to the austerity measures are currently projected to win a combined 43.5% of the vote. The Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) are both expected to perform well amid general anger over Greece’s financial woes. A few weeks ago, a pensioner shot himself outside of the Greek parliament in protest over the country’s economic troubles.
Other electoral developments in Europe include:
- Hungary’s president, Pál Schmitt, has resigned from office after he had his doctorate stripped from him due to plagiarism. Schmitt, elected in 2010, is a member of the ruling Fidesz party and although opponents are arguing for his replacement to be an independent, it is likely that the prime minister, Victor Orban, will use his two-thirds majority to push through another ally instead.
- The coalition government of the Netherlands appeared to be on the brink of collapse as budget negotiations caused significant disagreement between the main parties. The government consists of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), but relies on the support of the ring-wing Party for Freedom (PVV) in parliament. The leader of the PVV, Geert Wilders, has allegedly threatened to bring the government down if it does not cut the country’s aid budget, something that the CVA strongly disagrees with. Despite this, an agreement seems to have been reached that will bring the aid budget down, but could cause concern within the CVA party.
- Polls from the London mayoral contest show a clear lead for the incumbent, Conservative Boris Johnson, against his predecessor, Labour’s Ken Livingstone. Despite this, local elections on the same day are expected to favour the Labour Party at the expense of the two governing parties, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. There are also some local referendums in cities to see if residents want to have a mayor as well.