Autumn 2021: Political forecasts and panorama

Anton Rovenskyy, Master in international relations, international political scientist

The season of low political activity, which traditionally falls in August, is over. September is widely regarded as the first month of a new political season, so let’s take a look at its main storylines in a document below.

Federal elections in Germany

In January 2021, Armin Laschet became a leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), with the aim of obtaining or, to be more exact, politically inheriting the seat of chancellor after the results of the autumn elections to the Bundestag. While such a scenario was most realistic in January 2021, the events of the following months were definitely a bad surprise for the CDU.

In March 2021, the CDU lost the elections in two western federal territories. At the end of this spring, the Greens occupied the leading position in the electoral race. In the following months, the growing leadership of the Greens appeared unstable and the CDU resumed its positions. However, massive summer flooding in Germany hit the positions of the Merkel party and its potential ancestor hard. Today, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) enjoys the greatest support, with one of its leaders, Olaf Scholz, enjoying much better personal support than Armin Laschet, and being seen as a serious candidate for the seat of Federal Chancellor. In turn, popular support for the CDU is at historic lows.

At the end of her term, Angela Merkel must make monumental efforts to save the CDU’s majority interest in German politics and lead Armin Laschet to the seat of power. However, current social and political trends, as well as the nation’s weariness with “the Merkel course” are definitely working against the CDU, at least for now.

Future developments in Afghanistan

The entry into force of the “Taliban” in Afghanistan should come as no surprise to these experts, who have long followed the Central Asian region. However, many states, especially European ones, which are facing new waves of migrants from Afghanistan, have turned out not to be ready for this. Simultaneously, two blocs are trying to have a strong presence in the economy and logistics of the “post-American” country: China-Pakistan and Turkey-Qatar. Regarding new Afghan migrants to the EU, a group of European politicians stress that the EU needs to deal more closely with Turkey, which set up refugee camps on its territory in 2015-2016, thanks to large donations from the official government of Brussels. Nowadays, such a case is likely to be repeated once more by the Ankara official.

The aftershocks of the fall of pro-American power in Afghanistan will long be heard in the United States and Western Europe. The US federal elections of 2022, the aforementioned autumn federal elections in Germany, the election campaigns in Eastern European countries: all of these events would be influenced by the situation in Afghanistan, as well as by many other political processes. , economic and social in the world.

Political unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Christian Schmidt, CDU member and former member of the Merkel government, became the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina on August 1, 2021. He replaced Valentin Inzko, who has held this post for 12 years. It should be noted that the system of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina is built according to the Dayton Accords of 1995, which means that the High Representative has extremely wide powers, being the last instance in the decision-making process (including the right of veto on the decisions of the Bosnian legislative bodies).

As the UN Security Council did not approve the change of high representative, the Serbian part of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska), as well as Russia and China, do not recognize the full powers by Schmidt. With such a decision, the conflict between the Serbian part of Bosnia and the High Representative, provoked by a number of decisions of the Parliament of Republika Srpska and the Office of the former High Representative Valentin Inzko regarding the policy of remembrance, intensified.

For several years, the most radical part of the national elites of Republika Srpska have spoken of a possible secession from Bosnia, while their equally radical opponents of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Croatian Muslim Federation) have advocated the abolition of the Republika Srpska and the transformation of Bosnia into a unitary state. The chances that such scenarios will materialize are low at the moment, however, if the slow confrontation continues and the socio-economic situation in Bosnia continues to deteriorate, local elites could be seriously tempted to turn social discontent into confrontation. ethnic. Probably, in this case, the structures of the EU should have a say, for example by clearly stating the prospects for European integration of Bosnia, which will help to alleviate the national contradictions in the country.

Czech parliamentary elections

“Czech Trump”, the nickname of outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis in the 2017 election, who is also the founder of the populist ANO party, has a relatively high chance of remaining as head of government. According to polls, ANO scores barely drop below 30%.

However, the Brussels official is not in favor of a possible future post of Prime Minister of Babis. First, the European Commission had previously acknowledged that Babis was in a conflict of interest due to its control over the company, the transnational holding company Agrofert, which in turn received grants from EU structural funds. The case was referred to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which has been operating in Luxembourg since June 1, 2021. Second, the Czech Republic under the Babis regime sabotaged a number of European initiatives, mainly related to migration issues, by strengthening the cooperation with partners from Poland and Hungary, known for their critical attitude towards the EU.

For these reasons, the political future of Babis and his ANO party is not as bright as it appears from recent polls.

Protest activities in the Baltic States

In the summer of 2021, a wave of popular protests in Lithuania and Latvia involved several thousand people, which is a significant event for the Baltic States. The last time these countries faced such protests was during the 2008-09 global economic crisis. The Baltic States have been among the hardest hit by the collapse of world markets among EU member states, which has resulted in a noticeable reduction in social guarantees and an increase in the tax burden.

The current summer protests have been triggered by severe anti-COVID-19 restrictions and the worsening socio-economic situation caused by both the pandemic and reduced opportunities for labor migration to Europe Western (including post-Brexit UK). In Lithuania, the protests further fueled the confrontation between political factions oriented towards the incumbent president and the “old” political power, as well as the migration crisis associated with the infiltration of thousands of Middle Eastern immigrants from the Belarusian border. .

While the reasons for the protests are not excluded, there is no doubt that public unrest will accelerate this fall. So far, authorities in the Baltic states have used interdiction measures in an attempt to stop protest activity. Thus, according to the recommendations of the Lithuanian State Security Department, a gathering of 15,000 people in Vilnius, scheduled for September 10, was also banned.

What is different is that the political class of the Baltic States is quite homogeneous, and even in the event of the coming to power of opposition forces as a result of street actions and parliamentary crises, domestic policies and foreigner from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia will only undergo cosmetic changes. And the objective reduction of the resource base does not allow talking about the possibility of a significant growth in social norms.

Re-elections in Bulgaria

The current political crisis in Bulgaria will spread: the parties show no capacity to form a government following two general elections, which were held respectively in the spring and summer of the current year. For now, the nation is on the eve of the third parliamentary elections of the year, which could be held at the same time as the presidential elections of November 2021. Bulgaria’s political field may be significantly reformatted this fall, while the structures of the EU are interested in it. by downplaying the conditionally pro-Russian tilt of Bulgarian politics following the elections. Recall that the Bulgarian President-elect Rumen Radev was considered a friend of Moscow, which was a surprise given the events of 2014, when the Sofia official blocked the “South Stream” energy project, important for the Russian Federation. Russia.

One of the current intrigues is the future position of former Bulgarian Prime Minister in 2009-2021 Boyko Borissov, who has come under heavy criticism from the EU because of autocratic methods of government. In addition, it is worth pointing out the question of the development of relations between Bulgaria, the EU and North Macedonia in view of the latter’s European integration and the position of the official ethnic and cultural policy of Sofia. and North Macedonia.

It is also worth highlighting the new anti-COVID-2019 restrictions, which come into effect on September 7, 2021. Bulgaria is the least vaccinated nation in the EU, and the new wave of restrictions will certainly influence the country’s political processes. in the coming months. .

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