Lithuania’s Presidential Election Is Boring — And That’s Fine
Former finance minister Ingrida Šimonytė and economist Gitanas Nausėda have advanced to the second round of Lithuania’s presidential election. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis placed third and has announced he will step down in July.
The remaining candidates are both center-right, so the outcome of the runoff on May 26 should not affect Lithuania’s politics in a major way. Even so, the result is largely a happy one. Read more
After Historic Defeat, Spain’s Center-Right U-Turns
Spain’s conservative party leader, Pablo Casado, is belatedly appealing to the center after presiding over the worst parliamentary election result in his People’s Party’s history.
Support for the formerly dominant center-right party went down from 33 to 17 percent in the election last month. The People’s Party lost more than half its seats in Congress and now has only nine more than its biggest competitor, the liberal Citizens.
Casado’s lurch to the right on everything from abortion to Catalan separatism to immigration did not convince far-right voters, who preferred the nativist Vox, but it did scare away moderates, who voted for the Citizens or Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ Socialists instead. Read more
In Ukraine, a sitcom is turning into reality as Volodymyr Zelensky becomes the sixth president in the country’s post-Soviet history.
Before running in this year’s election, Zelensky starred in the political comedy Servant of the People, where he portrayed an ordinary teacher who had become president of Ukraine. His character’s attempts to fix the country run into strong opposition from corrupt oligarchs.
As president, Zelensky’s challenge will be much the same: defeating the oligarchs who have so far blocked reform in addition to managing Ukraine’s relations with Russia and building a political support base of his own. Read more
Spain’s are among few social democrats in Europe who have figured out how to thrive in a new political reality.
Although the 30 percent support Pedro Sánchez is projected to win Sunday night is a far cry from the 48 percent support the Socialists won at the peak of their popularity in the 1980s, it is a significant improvement on the last two election results (22 percent in both 2015 and 2016) and almost double what the conservative People’s Party, for decades the dominant party on the right, has managed. Read more