Lithuania’s Presidential Election Is Boring — And That’s Fine

Lithuania's outgoing president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, speaks at an event celebrating the country's fifteen years in the EU, May 1
Lithuania’s outgoing president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, speaks at an event celebrating the country’s fifteen years in the EU, May 1 (Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania/Robertas Dačkus)

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

Local Elections Highlight Political Fragmentation in United Kingdom

View of Bideford, England from the River Torridge
View of Bideford, England from the River Torridge (Shutterstock)

The outcome of local elections in the United Kingdom last week painted a stark picture for the country’s two major political parties.

The ruling Conservatives were expecting to lose around 800 of their 5,521 seats. They ended up losing 1,330 and with it control of 44 councils.

Labour, who were expecting gains, ended up losing 84 seats and control of six councils.

The clear winners were the Liberal Democrats, who more than doubled their seats, from 658 to 1,351, with 19 percent support. The Greens also won.

It is tempting to write up the result to those parties’ pro-EU message, but there is actually more at play. Read more

After Historic Defeat, Spain’s Center-Right U-Turns

Spanish People's Party leader Pablo Casado attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018
Spanish People’s Party leader Pablo Casado attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018 (EPP)

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

Three Challenges for Ukraine’s Sitcom President

Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky (Official Website)

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

The More Things Change in Catalonia, the More They Stay the Same

Cable car in Barcelona, Spain
Cable car in Barcelona, Spain (PxHere)

There are two ways to look at the result of Spain’s general election in Catalonia. Read more

Spain’s Social Democrats Buck European Trend

Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2, 2018
Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2, 2018 (Governo da República Portuguesa/Clara Azevedo)

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

Sánchez Wins in Spain But Could Need Separatists for Majority

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Casado, Albert Rivera and Pablo Iglesias
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Casado, Albert Rivera and Pablo Iglesias (PES/PP/Ciudadanos/Podemos)
  • Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez won the election on Sunday with 29 percent support for his center-left Socialist Party.
  • But his alliance with the far-left Podemos does not have a majority, forcing Sánchez to negotiate with parties from the Basque Country and Catalonia.
  • The conservative People’s Party imploded, losing half its votes to the center-right Citizens and the far-right Vox, which enters Congress for the first time. Read more