Next Sunday, on March 4, presidential elections are held in Russia. The likely winner of the elections, Vladimir Putin, has been known already for five months but during these five months Russian political climate has changed significantly.
On February 18, Latvia held a referendum on amendments to the Constitution (Satversme) that would make Russian a second official language. Discussions about this referendum have been very emotional. The sensitivity of the question resulted in the second-highest turnout of voters (71.12% ) for a referendum, just slightly lower than in the 2003 referendum on joining the European Union (71.49%). The proposal was rejected, so Russian did not become the second official language of Latvia and therefore an EU language.
Sauli Niinistö, a former finance minister and speaker of the parliament from the conservative National Coalition party received 62,7 per cent of the votes, a result which came as no surprise. Sauli Niinistö has throughout the entire presidential campaign been clear on how the role of the new president is to be played. Since the president has a direct mandate from the people he is entitled to engage also in other policy domains than those prescribed in the Finnish constitution.
When the voters go to the polls for the second round of the Finnish presidential election on Sunday February 5, the ultimate winner will be destined for a significantly weakened presidential office. The role of the future president was of the main issues during the first round of electoral campaign and will be further debated during the upcoming week between the two finalists.
The first round of the Finnish presidential elections last Sunday both fulfilled expectations and offered surprising results. Sauli Niinistö, the candidate of the National Coalition party, was as expected given the greatest number of votes. The competition about the second ticket to the presidential final turned out to be a much more exciting and a close race than expected.
On 4 December, Slovenian citizens went to the polls to elect their representatives in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, after the President of the Republic, Danilo Türk, had signed an order dissolving the Assembly on 21 October 2011. The Republic’s first snap elections were called after a vote of no confidence on 20 September had brought down the left-wing government led by Borut Pahor (Social Democrats). Here the author notes that several long-term implications may arise from the election results and post-festum reactions.
In the short term it seems reasonable to assume that Putin wants to win the presidential elections in early March by an absolute majority in the first round. The election campaign will be a first pointer to where Russia is heading.
This Sunday, on December 4, parliamentary elections are held in Russia as the first step in the country’s electoral cycle that will end with the presidential elections in early March 2012.
On 23 October 2011 a presidential election was held in Bulgaria, together with the country’s municipal elections, with a run-off on 30 October 2011. This comment explore the way that these elections were conducted, the political platforms of the three main contestants, and finally assess their outcome for the future politics of Bulgaria.
From a party-political perspective, the election has seen at least a partial consolidation of the pattern of competition. Although the spectacular arrival of a new party, the pro-market and libertarian Palikot Movement (Ruch Palikota, RP) represents a new locus of ideological identification in this structure, the surprise of its emergence should not lead to the rash drawing of conclusions as to its present relevance or future prospects. When the novelty of Palikot's triumph has worn off, the governing liberal-conservative Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) - and Tusk in particular - will remain the real winners of this election.