The final burst of speed in the European election campaign is a good moment to look beyond the home straight. Because behind this election the next elections are already in the offing – first in Belgium next Sunday, then in Denmark or Greece, most probably also in Great Britain or Italy and now certainly also in Austria.
Many of these elections will involve a transformation of the national party landscape. There the fields of influence will be redistributed; the political internal borders will be drawn differently.
Photo by Emily Zhang on Unsplash
Already on 5 June the future Folketing will be determined in Denmark. In the polls, the centre-left “Red Block” and the “Blue Block” of conservatives, liberals and nationalists are close together, with slight advantages for the Red Block. The incumbent Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen must therefore expect to be voted out of office.
In Greece, too, the polls predict a possible change. The naming of their neighbour North Macedonia shattered Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his coalition of left wing Syriza and right-wing nationalist Anel. In the new elections in October, the conservative Nea Dimokratia will be given the best chance of winning the elections – in other words, another change.
Austria re-elects in September after the scandal surrounding the Ibiza video, which blew up the coalition of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservative ÖVP and the national populist FPÖ (whose minister Kurz threw out of government). Nobody knows what is going to happen in September – and in the weeks before.
It’s getting exciting in Great Britain: Prime Minister Theresa May with her Tory minority cabinet is facing a daily fall, too many in her own ranks want to see her fail – but still have to fear new elections. The Brexit one-man party of Nigel Farage is far in the lead in the polls before the European elections (which are after all a proportional election). He will win and present his triumph as a confirmation of the Brexit referendum of 2016. It remains to be seen whether this will also help him in national elections (which are decided in 650 constituencies according to the relative majority voting system), because for this he would have to recruit enough candidates in the country and then pass the acid test of the first past the post principle.
Photo by Joachim Fritz-Vannahme
In Italy, a reversal of the balance of power in the coalition is emerging for the European elections. According to surveys, the strong force will be the legacy of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the coalition’s junior partner to date. The green-libertarian Cinque Stelle will probably suffer considerable losses and then be the smaller partner – or not a partner at all. For there is loud talk in Italy that a winner Salvini might break up the unloved coalition and seek new elections.
Who knows, maybe the regional elections in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia in autumn will lead to new national elections in Germany.
Next Tuesday, shortly after the EP elections, the European Council will meet in Brussels at the invitation of Council President Donald Tusk. Some people in the round are then already sitting on an ejection seat. When the key posts in the European Union – the Presidents of the Commission, the European Council, the Central Bank, and the EU External Action Representative – will be discussed, one or the other of them could be very cautious in the Council.
Because after the election is before the election.