A Letter From… Lithuania! 

 

The political season in Lithuania has been especially intense this spring, as we had municipal elections followed by presidential elections, two Referendums and the European elections in the course of the past 3 months. Naturally, the presidential elections took the limelight away from the European campaign. Just like in many other countries, European elections are considered to be the least exciting ones here in Lithuania, partly because people take little interest in how things work in Brussels and also because many parties delegate their most experienced politicians, who are past their zenith, to the European Parliament.

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A Letter From… Latvia! 

 

This year Latvia celebrated 15 years since it had joined the European Union back in 2004. While many experts and opinion-makers are still discussing whether Latvians feel the connection with Europe and have a solid understanding of the processes taking place in Brussels and their influence on Latvia, one thing is quite clear – Latvians do care about Europe’s future. More people took to the polling stations this year compared to the last European elections. Though the difference is only 3% (in 2014 the turnout was 30.24% and in 2019 the turnout is 33.6%), it generally mirrors the wider European increase in voter turnout.

 

In order to fully understand the European campaign’s setup in Latvia, one needs to remember that the European elections this year came only 7 months after general elections. Continue reading

A Letter From… Finland! 

 

The European Parliament elections were held just a month after Finland had elected its national Parliament. The national vote set the frame for the EP campaigns.

 

European elections so close after national ones meant that campaigning posed a challenge to parties and candidates alike, as voters suffered from a slight election fatigue and media focused much more on the negotiations over a new government. The European campaigns were somewhat affected by a lack of enthusiasm. Continue reading

A Letter From… Slovakia! 

 

In Slovakia, the European Parliament elections were always considered as peripheric in terms of both the interest of the citizens and the fact that they barely ever brought a surprising change. Thus, it is only fair to say that the European Parliament election that has taken place on the 25th May 2019 represents a dramatic departure from the past.

 

In 2014, Slovakia managed to set a historically low turnout for the European Parliament election at 13%. This turnout was a blunder that no politician in Slovakia wanted to see replicated. A big portion of the impetus came early last year, when a murder of a young journalist and his fiancée has led to massive protests and new political interest that has been most embodied by a coalition of two new parties. Continue reading

A Letter From…Czech Republic! 

 

After the results were published, several Czech political parties have proclaimed that they were happy with the results. Whether there was a reason for merriment is a fairly difficult question to answer.

 

In my opinion there was no clear winner. ANO, the party of prime minster Babiš did win most votes, but the 21 % ANO received is rather underwhelming (ANO polls around 30 % nowadays). As a member of ALDE, ANO possibly faces a domestic image problem if Macron’s party LREM takes a leading role in the European party family. Many voters of ANO do not endorse Macron’s agenda for deeper EU integration. Continue reading

A Letter From… Poland! 

 

If ever there was any doubt that hard work and due diligence pays off, this doubt was dissipated during this European election in Poland.  A party of Euro-skeptics, nationalists, ultra-conservatives wishing to relegate the position of women back to the Dark Ages; a party of homophobes, who gives neo-Nazis no more than a pat on the hand for hijacking otherwise peaceful parades during national holidays – this party has taken the European elections by storm despite record-high participation levels.  Why?  Because they put in the biggest, most inhumane amounts of effort and they believe in what they do. Continue reading

A Letter From… France! 

 

 

European elections have always been atypical in France. Most French citizens have never really understood proportional elections and single ballots. In addition, non-EU related debates and programmes always prevailed.

This year’s European elections were no exception: lack of interest by citizens and the media, lack of knowledge about the election, lack of a European programme for most of the candidates on the electoral lists.

 

What is different in 2019 is the context: For the past six months, the yellow vests’ movement has absorbed all the attention of the media, with protesters looking for work and riots occurring each Saturday. Some thought this movement would not even last a month; others argued it was a new beginning. Both were wrong. Continue reading