Tim Haughton

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Kiril Petkov, left, and Assen Vassilev, co-leaders of the We Continue the Change party, celebrate their victory in Bulgaria's parliamentary elections in Sofia on Nov. 14. The newly founded anti-corruption party won the most seats in Bulgaria's parliamentary election on Sunday. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

“Change Continues” is not only the name of the winner of Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, but also a fitting description of a country that has held three elections with three different winners in the last seven months.

Why the electoral churn, and what happens now? First, an inconclusive election in April resulted in an impasse and a caretaker government assembled by the president. Another inconclusive election in July and another caretaker government then led to elections in November.

The winner of the Nov. 14 election, a party founded less than two months ago by two business executives who loudly proclaim their Harvard credentials, is the latest in a string of new parties that have periodically erupted in Bulgaria over the last 20 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

People wait as a woman casts her vote at a polling station during Bulgaria's parliamentary election in Sofia on April 4. (Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s still “hurricane season” in European party politics. In Bulgaria’s April 4 parliamentary elections, a quarter of voters backed Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, the center-right party of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov that is commonly known as GERB. But new parties that campaigned with an anti-corruption message did unexpectedly well, which means Borissov has no clear pathway to form a governing coalition. Two scenarios seem likely — a coalition of the newcomers or a caretaker government and early elections.

Here are four main takeaways.

Even a strong political record doesn’t mean a candidate is unassailable

Borissov has won every single election since 2007 and has served as prime minister for much of the past decade.…  Seguir leyendo »

Igor Matovic, leader of anti-graft political movement Ordinary People and Independent Personalities, and Slovak President Zuzana Caputova arrive Monday for informal talks after the country's parliamentary election at the presidential palace in Bratislava. (Vladimir Simicek/Afp Via Getty Images)

It’s still hurricane season in European party politics, with plenty of unpredictable results. In Slovakia, the winds blew hard Saturday — the governing parties took a big hit, with two smaller partners losing their representation in parliament entirely and Slovakia’s once-dominant Smer-Social Democracy party suffering major losses.

The clear winner was anti-corruption — not the radical right

Much of the international coverage prior to the election focused on assertions of widespread support for Marian Kotleba’s neo-fascist party. But Kotleba’s Our Slovakia party mustered just 8 percent of the vote. A decline in overall voting for nationalist parties and splintering of the nationalist vote meant Slovakia’s other two prominent nationalist parties failed to win any seats at all.…  Seguir leyendo »

The United Kingdom is set for a dramatic election night Thursday. Will Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson land the parliamentary majority he needs to secure his Brexit deal?

According to the latest opinion polls the Conservatives seem likely to win a majority. Here are the four factors likely to shape the outcome:

1. Johnson wants a Brexit focus; Labour wants to change the subject

In interviews and debates, Johnson has repeated his central slogan and promise to “Get Brexit Done.” The message appeals to those who voted in June 2016 for Britain to leave the European Union, while speaking to the general public’s disillusionment and frustration with politicians who have bickered over Brexit for the past three and a half years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Annotated results of Slovakia's first round of voting for president, held March 16.

On March 16, Slovakia held the first round of voting for its largely ceremonial Slovak presidency, with 13 candidates competing for the slot. Even though the country’s real executive power lies with a prime minister, the presidential election reveals the mood and changing politics of Slovakia. Two candidates are left standing: an anti-corruption crusader and a candidate promoted by the ruling party, Smer. The pair will face-off in the March 30 second round. Here are five takeaways, showing the shape of politics in the country and wider region.

1. It’s not about populism, but about rejecting the elite

Many voters are fed up with the current government’s corruption and scandals.…  Seguir leyendo »

The divorce negotiations may go to the wire.

The negotiations over the British withdrawal from the European Union were supposed to be over by now. But the October European summit came and went without a deal. And a much-hyped challenge to Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership fizzled out Wednesday, in part thanks to the reaction to the gruesome off-the-record language from critics in her party.

The Brexit process remains a multilevel negotiation, where actors send out signals and seek to frame the discussions to rally support, obfuscate and intimidate. With just over 150 days to go until Britain is due to leave the European Union, here are five things to watch:

1.…  Seguir leyendo »

Janez Jansa, right-wing opposition Slovenian Democratic Party leader, right, speaks after casting his ballot at a polling station in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Sunday. (AP)

Although it still feels like hurricane season in European party politics, some parties are clearly able to survive the storm. But winning the vote is just part of the battle.

Here’s what Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Slovenia tell us about anti-migration feelings, personality politics and other factors at play in European elections this year.

1) Anti-migration appeals work — to some extent

As expected, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) won with 25 percent of the vote. Taking a cue from Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, SDS employed anti-migration rhetoric to great effect. Janez Jansa, the SDS leader for the past quarter-century, portrayed his party as the best defender of Slovenia from migrants and protector of the Slovenian way of life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Czech billionaire Andrej Babis adjusts his tie after meeting with Czech Republic’s president, Milos Zeman, at the Lany Castle in Lany, Czech Republic. (AP)

Czech party politics used to be fairly simple. But since 2010, its elections have repeatedly delivered instability and fragmentation. And this past Sunday’s voting shows 2017 is no exception.

As expected, Andrej Babiš’s party ANO won the Czech elections with nearly 30 percent of the vote. His victory has dominated the headlines in the United States and Europe, but the election also was striking for the collapse of the Social Democrats (ČSSD), the rise of new political forces and a fragmented Parliament with nine parties.

Why did the Social Democrats do so badly?

ČSSD’s share of the vote slumped to 7.3 percent, its worst performance since the early 1990s.…  Seguir leyendo »

A poster depicting Andrej Babis hangs on a bus stop near the town of Benesov, Czech Republic. It says, “This is not Babis’s land.” (David W. Cerny/Reuters)

The parallels are easy to draw. A rich businessman who has played on anti-establishment and anti-politician appeals looks set to win the Czech elections this week, with voters going to the polls Friday and Saturday. But the real question is not why Andrej Babis, who has inevitably been described as a Trump-like figure, has so much support. It’s why he has managed to increase his support since the 2013 elections.

In 2013, Babis’s party, the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO), an acronym that spells “yes” in Czech, won 18.65 percent in national parliamentary elections. Its pitch was straight out of the new-party-led-by-a-businessman playbook: Trust me, I’m a successful businessman, and I know how to get things done.…  Seguir leyendo »

British Prime Minister Theresa May will submit a letter triggering “Article 50” on Wednesday, kicking off the formal process for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Divorces can be messy — and drawn out. Anger, regret and coldhearted calculations can lead the two sides to an agreement that neither side wanted or expected. There is no precedent or guide for any country to leave the E.U., but these four factors will play a key role in the coming months:

1) The real negotiations begin … well, not quite yet

In the nine months since the June 2016 Brexit referendum, there has been a calm before the storm.…  Seguir leyendo »