2022 promises to be an exciting electoral year. At least seven seats of the European Council are up for grabs, of which the votes involving Emmanuel Macron and Viktor Orbán may electrify electoral enthusiasts the most. This piece reviews which European leaders will need to defend their positions and how the European Green Party (EGP) members are performing in polls before national, regional and local elections in Europe during 2022.
2022 is still young, but the first elections in Europe have already passed.
On 23 January, the first-ever regional election throughout Finland, with the exception of the capital Helsinki and the autonomous region of Åland, took place. The Green League “Vihreä liitto” won 7.4%. Because it is the first election of its kind, it is not easy to interpret the results in a historical context. On the same day, the Turkish Cypriot community parliament snap election did not see any EGP member participation.
The Presidential election in Italy is the first major vote in the electoral year in Europe. It started on 24 January but usually continues for several days. The Italian bicameral national parliament and regional representatives elect the President. This setup means that the two European Green Party members, “Europa Verde – Verdi” and “Verdi–Grüne–Vërc,” will likely not play a significant role in selecting a successor to independent incumbent Sergio Mattarella because they lack adequate representation. Mattarella has already declined to run for re-election. Regional elections will occur in Sicily in August, but no lists have been declared yet.
First national parliament election of the year: Portugal
On 30 January, the national parliamentary election in Portugal will take place. Centre-left Prime Minister António Costa is campaigning to beat the centre-right opposition, which has reduced the gap to the incumbent from 13 points to 6 points in polls over the past weeks. The “CDU – Coligação Democrática Unitária” electoral alliance, which includes the Portuguese Communist Party and the green “Partido Ecologista "Os Verdes"”, currently stands at about 5% in the Europe Elects polling average. Unless this figure changes, it would be the worst national parliamentary election result for the CDU alliance since its creation in 1982.
Several regional elections will take place in Switzerland in 2022. While no polling is available, EGP member “GRÜNE Schweiz” will participate in most – if not all – of them. This includes the regional government elections in Glarus (13 February), the regional parliament and government elections in Nidwalden (13 March), in Obwalden (13 March), Vaud (20 March), Berne (27 March), Grisons (15 May), Zug (2 October), and the regional parliament elections in Glarus (15 May). National referenda are scheduled for 13 February, 15 May, 25 September and 27 November.
On 16 March, voters in the Netherlands will elect new local parliaments, including in Amsterdam. In the previous election in 2018, EGP member “GroenLinks” won a plurality of the vote with 20.4%.
On 27 March, voters in the region of Saarland will herald the electoral year in Germany and determine if “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” will manage to enter the regional parliament for the first time since 2012. This regional branch of the party failed to participate in the national parliamentary election in 2021 with a list. The latest polls see the party on track to enter the parliament with about 8% (2017: 4.0%). The northern region of Schleswig-Holstein, where the Greens are junior government coalition partners, elects a new regional parliament on 8 May. “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” hopes to increase its vote share from 13% to about 18%, in line with recent polls. The most populous region in Germany, North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), will elect a new regional parliament just one week later. The NRW Greens hope for a similar result as their Schleswig-Holstein partners after receiving only 6% in the 2017 vote. Lower Saxony will hold regional elections on 9 October. For the presidential election on 13 February 2022, Alliance 90/The Greens has endorsed incumbent Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Even though the European Greens cooperate with several organisations in Serbia, there is currently no formal member registered in the country that could contest the 2022 national parliament, local parliament or presidential election on 3 April. The votes take place alongside a constitutional referendum on the judiciary on 16 January.
April’s electoral highlight of the year: France
On 10 April and 24 April, voters in France will elect a new President. Incumbent Emmanuel Macron is expected to run for re-election, currently polling ahead of several right-wing competitors. In current polls, Yannick Jadot, the green “Europe Écologie Les Verts” nominee, has between five and nine percent. In 2017, the French Greens underwent a candidate nomination process but later endorsed centre-left candidate Benoît Hamon. In a two-round majoritarian electoral system, voters will elect a new national parliament on 12 and 19 June.
On 24 April, eligible voters in Slovenia will elect a new national parliament. Right-wing to centre-right Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša is campaigning for re-election amidst allegations of authoritarianism. EGP member “SMS, Zeleni Evrope” has not appeared in recent polls. Presidential elections and local elections in the country will take place in the autumn.
National parliament elections in Hungary will take place 3 April. The green “LMP – Magyarország Zöld Pártja” supports the ideologically diverse “Egységben Magyarországért” alliance against “autocracy-curious” prime minister and European Council member Viktor Orbán. “Egységben Magyarországért” is polling, on average, at 43%, behind Orbán’s right-wing “Fidesz-KDNP” alliance, which is at 47%. The date for the 2022 presidential elections in Hungary has yet to be determined.
Local elections will take place in the Brexit-ridden United Kingdom on 5 May, with regional assembly elections in Northern Ireland on the same day. The Northern Irish Greens are polling between 2-4%. In the previous election in 2017, they attracted 2.3% of the vote. The self-governing Crown Dependency of Jersey, which is not part of the UK, will elect a new parliament on 22 June. However, no European Green Party member exists on the island.
Summer 2022: All eyes on Malta, Sweden and Latvia
Some election dates for summer, autumn and winter 2022 have not been set yet. This is the case for Malta, which elected the last national parliament in June 2017 and where incumbent centre-left prime minister Robert Abela is hoping to secure his first election victory after taking office in the middle of the outgoing legislative period. The EGP member “AD+PD” in Malta was registered in 2020. Its main predecessor, the green “Alternattiva Demokratika,” failed to win parliamentary representation since their first national parliamentary election in 1992. The same is true for “Partit Demokratiku”, which first ran in 2017. As of now, “AD+PD” is polling at about the same level as its predecessors.
Albania will hold presidential elections in the summer. It is unlikely that the “Albanian Green Party - Partia e Gjelber” will play a significant role as the position is elected by parliament, where the Albanian greens hold no seats.
National parliamentary elections and local elections in Sweden will occur on 11 September, in which newly elected prime minister Magdalena Andersson needs to secure a victory for the Social Democratic Party. The Swedish Greens are polling just below 4%, which means that the party may face parliamentary extinction. The last time the Greens failed to enter the national parliament was 1991. Presidential elections in Austria will take place around the same time, but a precise date has yet to be confirmed. Former Green Party member and incumbent president Alexander Van der Bellen has not yet confirmed if he will run again for office.
Latvia, with centre-right incumbent prime minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, will elect a new national parliament on 1 October, with Bosnia and Herzegovina following suit one day later. No European Green Party member exists in either of these two states.
Local and regional elections will take place in or around November in Slovakia. However, no EGP member is registered in the country. A new regional parliament will be elected in Spain’s most populous region of Andalucia, but no date has been set. No European Green Party member has yet announced its intention to participate in the elections.
The Europe Elects electoral calendar is constantly updated: http://europeelects.eu/calendar/