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  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The general elections held in Montenegro on 30 August 2020 has once again drawn the attention of the Western Balkans to the smallest, measured by population, among seven nations that emerged after the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This attention is due to a number of factors. Back in May of 2018 Montenegro has opened the last of the thirty-three chapters in the negotiation process with the European Union, making it a harbinger among Western Balkans nations on the path to Euro-Atlantic integrations, especially as the country had joined the North Atlantic Alliance in June 2017. Other countries in the region linger behind Montenegro – Albania and North Macedonia, both NATO members, are still waiting for the opening of the negotiations with the EU. Serbia has no intention to join NATO, and in spite of EU negotiations and ambitions, sees itself in balance between the West on one side, and Russia and China on the other. Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are far from NATO membership and have merely the status of potential candidates for EU membership. This is why all eyes of the region and of the advocates of continuation of EU enragement policy are on Montenegro. The second factor are strong historical ties of this country on the Adriatic coast with its northern neighbor Serbia. Serbian minority makes up to one third of Montenegro’s population, and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC- Srpska Pravoslavna Crkva) plays a vital role in Montenegrin society, as this country does not have its own autocephalous Church recognized by other Orthodox Churches in Eastern Christendom. This gives Serbia and the SPC a significant clout within borders of its southern neighbor. The third factor is the involvement of global players in this country. The United Sates has advocated strongly to include Montenegro in NATO in order to stretch the line of NATO’s southern flank in the Northern Mediterranean from the Iberian Peninsula to the west to Greece and Turkey in the east. On the other hand, Montenegro’s authorities accused Russia of meddling in the general elections held in October 2016 when the alleged coup d’état occurred on the election day. Many feared a similar scenario on the eve of 30 August 2020 election, fathoming the outbreak of riots and violence that could ignite the powder keg in the Balkans. Although none of these happened, Montenegro is not ceasing to be the subject of the geopolitical chessboard. Considering these factors, the attention of neighbors to the events in this Balkan country is understandable. The unfolding situation after the elections in which the government of Montenegro is backed by a very thin majority in the Parliament (Skupština Crne Gore) and with no clear vision nor strategy for further political and economic development of the country, is only fueling the wariness of its neighbors and of Brussels about Montenegro as a success story.
  • Topic: NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Elections, European Union, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans, Montenegro
  • Author: Matteo Cavallaro
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes the role of local spending, particularly on social welfare, and local inequality as factors in the Italian political crisis following the adoption in 2011 of more radical national austerity measures. We employ two different methods. First, we develop an original database of municipal budgets. There we show that even the lowest level of social welfare spending, that offered by Italian municipalities, though also hit by austerity, was still able to moderate this national shock. We test three operationalizations of local spending: aggregate current expenditures, aggregate current expenditures on social services, and current expenditures disaggregated by function. We show that municipal current expenditures, particularly on social spending, significantly affected the post-2011 share of votes for the progressive coalition. The results also show that social spending, especially on education, significantly moderated the combined effect of national austerity and the economic crisis on voting for populist radical right parties, while no significant results appeared for populist parties in general. Local inequality appears to significantly enhance vote shares of populist radical right parties and populist parties in general. We caution that, although significant, the effect is not strong: that local policy and economic conditions can moderate national shocks but cannot reverse them. The second analysis relies on survey data to ascertain the individual-level mechanisms behind the role of local welfare. The paper argues that local economic inputs influence voters’ position on non-economic issues. Our results, however, do not identify any significant individual-level channel of transmission, be it cultural or economic.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Inequality, Populism, Austerity
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Ronald Meinardus
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
  • Abstract: Rarely has an election outcome in Germany been as uncertain as it is today. Berlin’s future policy towards Ankara, and not at least the related refugee issues, especially following the recent developments in Afghanistan, will be one of the topics future coalition partners will need to agree on. The election manifestos of the political parties provide an important source for analyzing the political views of the political actors. All parties criticize the dire situation of human rights and the rule of law in today’s Turkey. While CDU/CSU and the far-right AfD reject a Turkish membership in clear terms, the other parties are less outspoken in this point. Potentially the most consequential divergence as reflected in the electoral programs relates to Germany’s arms export policy and the EU Refugee Agreement of 2016. Unlike the other parties, both the Greens and “Die Linke” want to terminate the migration deal as well as the export of German arms to Turkey.
  • Topic: Migration, Politics, Elections, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Germany, Mediterranean
  • Author: Paul Beckman, Barbara Fulda, Sebastian Kohl
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Traditional predictors of election outcomes in Germany are increasingly losing their explana- tory power. Rather than new cultural divides, this paper introduces the idea of housing cleav- ages, i.e., homeownership versus tenancy and high-price versus low-price areas, drawing on macro data for electoral districts and urban neighborhoods from the last three elections (2009– 2017) in combination with Immoscout24 ad price data and microdata from the ALLBUS sur- vey (1980–2016). Although, due to its low homeownership rate and conservative house price development, Germany represents a least-likely case for housing to be of importance, we find housing effects beyond traditional predictors. Generally, we find that high house prices, house price increases, and homeownership are positively associated with voting for center-right par- ties and voter turnout, while social tenancy is associated with votes for the left, but these effects weaken over time due to embourgeoisement effects. Beyond this expected left-right distinction between tenants and wealthier homeowners, we also find outliers along two other dimensions. First, there are center-periphery effects that housing can better capture than simple geographical divisions; second, house prices contain a populist dimension, for example when skyrocketing rents increase votes for the urban left or regions where house prices lag behind benefit the AfD. The paper argues against the more causal self-interest and socialization theories of the influence of housing on voting and instead suggests considering housing as an important socioeconomic proxy to explain political outcomes.
  • Topic: Elections, Voting, Homeownership , Housing
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe
  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Alexander Lukashenko’s “victory” in the election cannot bridge the gap between the president and the modern part of Belarusian society. Turbulent times may lie ahead for Belarus. This will require the West to revise its current approach and invest more in supporting forces that want reforms and the country’s Europeanization.
  • Topic: Reform, Elections, Europeanization, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Belarus
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Peopleʼs grievances were not reflected in Russia’s regional elections this year. The Kremlin is reaping the benefits of increasingly blatant electoral fraud and citizensʼ political apathy.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Elections, Rigged Elections , Opposition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Pavel Sharikov
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: This paper investigates differences in Russian and American approaches to challenges of the information age, and explores some destabilizing effects on bilateral relations. The governments and societies in Russia and the United States base political and economic decisions about the development and use of information technology on different principles; in a globalized, interconnected world Russia’s collectivistic approach clashes with American individualistic approach. This exacerbates numerous problems in Russia-U.S. relations, including reciprocal allegations of information attacks as a form of interference in domestic affairs. Alternative approaches to information-age dilemmas make Russia and the United States particularly sensitive to different ways of using information technology to impact electoral processes and domestic politics, with little understanding of each other’s narratives and national priorities.
  • Topic: Elections, Information Age, Disinformation, Election Interference
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Erwin van Veen
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: On the eve of the US elections, the nuclear deal (JCPOA) stands on the edge of the precipice. The US strategy of ‘maximum pressure’ has not (yet) achieved its implicit objective of 'regime change' but tanked Iran’s economy, caused its government to dig in and increased regional instability. The geopolitical consequences of US sanctions, EU prevarication and Iran’s deep presence throughout the Middle East have been equally profound. At the global level, they include nudging Iran towards China/Russia, the US alienating its European ‘partners’ and encouraging them to develop greater strategic autonomy. At the regional level, US sanctions risk creating an alternative economic regional order, ensuring Yemen remains a protracted war and making a regional security initiative more necessary, but less likely. It is not yet too late to turn the tide. The focus should now be on reducing regional tensions and especially the stress that sanctions have put on Iran’s population and government. Radical action looks more inviting when one stands against the wall, but the Middle East does not need more conflict than it already has. To do so, the EU should first support Iran with a large-scale Covid-19 humanitarian economy recovery package. As such measures are already sanctions-exempt, they will create few new tensions. An economic initiative should follow that grants preferential access to the EU’s internal market for industrial and agricultural goods from the entire Middle East (for Iran via an upgraded INSTEX). Such interventions will not resolve existing security dilemmas but can show there is an alternative to confrontation.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Elections, European Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Iran, Yemen, United States of America
  • Author: Augustin Palokaj
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: European elections this year, to take place on 23-26 May, are considered to be one of the most important in the history of the European Union. This might sound exaggerated or at least something that has been heard before. But there are many reasons why this time things are different. The EU is at the crossroads, performance, record low unemployment and fewer member states find themselves in economic difficulties or excessive deficit. Trust in the EU and support for membership is increasing among citizens in most member states. However, the general picture remains mixed and any flaw is widely exploited by with mixed picture on the state of the union: divided more than ever on core issues such as common values, solidarity, migration, free movement and the rule of law. On the positive side, however, there is a pretty good economic eurosceptic forces. Many challenges will have to be addressed urgently, starting immediately after the European elections. The results, which will most probably confirm a decline in support for traditional mainstream parties, will affect the election of a new President of the European Commission, a new President of the European Council and other key figures in EU institutions. This time it will not be easy, since many national leaders have questioned the automatic respect for the principle of “Spitzenkandidat” (the lead candidate put forward by the political group able to create a majority in the European Parliament, that becomes the President of the European Commission) and will try to return this power to elect the Commission’s President to the heads of states and governments, with the Parliament expected to rubber-stamp their choice. The Parliament could fight back and this may create a politically motivated power struggle between two major EU institutions.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Elections, European Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe, Brussels
  • Author: Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Emanuele Giaufret, Omer Gendler, Noga Arbell, Ariel Shafransky, Eran Etzion, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: A policy roundtable on the 2019 European Parliament elections results and their possible significance for Europe and Israel took place on 30 May 2019 at Tel Aviv University. It was organized by the Israeli Association for the Study of European Integration (IASEI), Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, the EU Studies Program at Tel Aviv University, and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The event featured EU Ambassador to Israel H.E. Emanuele Giaufret, Ariel Shafransky and Noga Arbell from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Maya Sion of IASEI, Dr. Nimrod Goren of the Mitvim Institute, former diplomat Eran Etzion, and Omer Gendler of the Open University.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Itai Brun, Tehilla Shwartz Altschuler
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: On April 18, 2019, the US Department of Justice released a redacted version of the full report (448 pages) submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller about Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. The report consists of two parts: the first presents the outcome of the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election and draws conclusions regarding the presence or absence of a conspiracy or illegal coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign; the second part deals with President Trump’s possible obstruction of justice regarding the FBI investigation into the Russian intervention and the investigation by the Special Counsel himself. This essay deals with the first part, i.e., the results of the investigation into the connection between the Russians and Trump for the purpose of influencing the election results. The report reflects accurately the US criminal law that deals with conspiracy and illegal coordination regarding elections. At the same time, it exposes a gap in the nation’s conceptual, organizational, legal, and technological preparedness to confront the possibilities that the digital space provides to undermine – internally and externally – the democratic process. Israel suffers from the same gap, and it is therefore imperative that the state confront it before the next Knesset election.
  • Topic: Crime, Elections, Election Interference , Investigations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Author: Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Moldovan parliamentary election is not about geopolitical or societal choices; it is about a power grab by oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, and the erosion of pluralism, freedoms and European aspirations under the EU’s watch.
  • Topic: Elections, European Union, Geopolitics, Election watch, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Moldavia
  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite the momentum for fundamental change that emerged in Ukraine after the Euromaidan revolution of 2014, the incumbent elites were able to safeguard many traditional mechanisms for extending their stay in power and effectively impeded the systemic transformation. After the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2019, Ukraine will face an increased risk of populism and radicalization of the political agenda on the one hand, and apathy and disengagement among the population on the other. In these circumstances, the West should be ready to increase its involvement in Ukraine, but also to step up conditionality in order to influence the behaviour of protectors of the old system, interacting more with the pro-reform constituency in Ukraine.
  • Topic: Elections, Revolution, State Building, Euromaidan Revolution
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Teemu Tammikko
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Whoever wins the Spanish parliamentary elections on 28 April is headed for difficult coalition talks, as the left and the right are still deeply divided, despite the fragmentation of the party system. Small regional parties are likely to gain more weight than their size would suggest.
  • Topic: Elections, Election watch, Local, Party System
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Kremlin is trying to learn lessons from old problems regarding its electoral authoritarian system, but new ones are constantly emerging. At the heart of these is the Kremlin’s party system.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Elections, Election watch, Local, Party System
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Marco Siddi, Barbara Gaweda
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Poland’s incumbent party Law and Justice seems poised to win the election thanks to its welfare policies and the weakness of the opposition. However, its attacks on the independence of the judiciary and the media could further erode the rule of law and exacerbate disputes with the EU.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Elections, European Union, Populism, Conservatism, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Along with Vladimir Putinʼs third presidential term, intensified repression has manifested itself in line with the countryʼs increasing economic challenges. The starting point for this political trend was the so-called Bolotnaya Affair in May 2012. Since then, the regime has tightened the screws: non-governmental organizations receiving foreign funding must register as ‘foreign agents’; there are numerous restrictions on the use of the internet, as well as conditions for organizing demonstrations. The regimeʼs policies aim to send signals to the rest of society about the serious consequences that unwanted political and civic activities might cause. However, measures become inflated when the repressive deterrent targets too many. By 2019, along with the changed social mood, unparalleled solidarity against repressive policies, particularly around the regional elections in Moscow, has forced the authorities to retreat from some of their initial repressive goals. The Kremlin duly has to re-evaluate the usage of its repressive deterrent against the political opposition and civil society.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Elections, Repression, Fear, Opposition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: After 17 years of the Islamic-conservative AKP’s electoral hegemony, the secular-nationalist Republican People’s Party (CHP) achieved significant success in the recent municipal elections on March 2019, and is now increasingly challenging President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The secular-nationalist political discourse has traditionally advanced the idea of making Turkey a modern nation-state closely attached to the West, yet the West is also seen as a potential threat. The CHP identifies itself as a social-democratic party, and is now trying to build a wide pro-democratic platform based on a social market economy and fundamental rights. The party’s strong secularist and Turkish nationalist core has made it difficult for the CHP to gain support among the Kurds and religious conservatives, and this remains challenging. Strong nationalism and suspicion about the West are deeply ingrained in Turkey’s political culture. On the other hand, in order to be inherently coherent, the secular-nationalist vision requires an ideological attachment to the Western world. Stemming from these premises, under the CHP’s government, Turkey’s foreign policy would likely prioritize good relations with the West, and re-invigorate the country’s EU prospect.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Hegemony, Elections, Local
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Iris Muraz
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: Just one week before the Ukrainian presidential election, this article aims to highlight the main issues at stake in this vote in a country undergoing fundamental political change and marked by five years of undeclared war with Russia. After setting the scene in which the election is taking place, the aim will be to understand the main security, political, social and economic stakes (influence of armed conflict in the Donbass, social reform and expectations, power games between oligarchs) at the heart of the candidates’ electoral strategies. This will help us expose the complex set of interests of both economic and political stakeholders, bearing witness to a highly corrupt political system, which is impeding the implementation of reform in Ukraine initiated in 2014, and contributing to increasing mistrust amongst the population as far as their political elites are concerned. The aim will also be to place this election in the context of wider international mechanisms by analysing the view the EU and Russia have of this election. Finally, particular attention will be given to the role played by Ukrainian civil society in the next electoral cycle (legislative elections in October 2019 and local elections in 2020), and to the initiative of new dynamics in the country since the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-2014.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: One of the most significant—and most disturbing—aspects of the Mueller report is the confirmation that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election, based on the Special Counsel’s exhaustive collection and review of intelligence. This campaign by a foreign adversary represents a serious threat to U.S. national security and is reminiscent of Moscow’s actions during the Cold War. As this CSIS Brief highlights, Moscow has long conducted an “active measures” campaign against the United States, including trying to manipulate U.S. domestic politics. U.S. policymakers now need a forceful response to Russia’s intelligence campaign.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Law, Elections, Election Interference , Rigged Elections
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North America, United States of America