Two results and a dissolution

Time for quick updates on three European countries.


Cyprus went to the polls on Sunday in the first round of its presidential election (see my preview here). There were no great surprises: former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides led the field with 32.0%, about 10,000 votes ahead of diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis on 29.6%. The two will contest a second round next Sunday.

Both men are nominally independents, but Christodoulides is backed by the centrist-cum-nationalist Democratic Party and its allies, while Mavroyiannis is backed by the Communist party, AKEL. Averof Neofytou, the candidate of the ruling centre-right party, was eliminated after coming third with 26.1%; his voters are mostly expected to back Christodoulides in the runoff.

Another 11 candidates shared the remaining 12.3% of the vote, of which the far right’s Christos Christou did best with 6.0%. Turnout was a very respectable 72.0%, almost unchanged from 2018’s 71.9%.


Sunday’s other election was in the tiny principality of Monaco, the UN’s smallest member (also previewed here). Its unfair electoral system tends to produce lopsided results, but this time the voters were equally responsible: a single ticket, the Monegasque National Union (UNM), won 89.6% of the vote and all of the 24 seats.

The UNM had been formed by a merger of the three parties that had won seats at the last election, so its dominance was not surprising. Its rival, New Ideas for Monaco, managed only 10.4%, just short of the 11.1% that would have secured it one of the eight proportional seats (assuming that the system is D’Hondt, which is the norm in that part of the world).

Brigitte Boccone-Pagès, leader of the UNM, will remain speaker of the parliament, which does not control the executive. Turnout was only 57.3%, down 13 points from last time and apparently a record low. Voters seem unenthusiastic about the new unanimity among their representatives.

Although it was written before results came in, the EuroNews report on the election contains lots of interesting information and is well worth a read (although some of it seems to have been awkwardly translated from French). Note however that the last sentence is not correct: while Monaco remains subservient to France in many ways, a 2002 treaty now provides that it will retain its independence even if the prince dies without heirs.


Finally an upcoming election: as expected, Bulgarian president Rumen Radev dissolved parliament last Thursday after it became clear that no prospective government could command a majority. The election will be held in two months, on 2 April – the fifth election in almost exactly two years. Current caretaker prime minister Galab Donev will remain in office until then.

Bulgaria has many problems, but the immediate cause of the impasse is one that may end up affecting other countries as well: the fact that the war in Ukraine has created divisions that cut across the existing party system. As well as a split between establishment and reformist parties, there is now a split between pro- and anti-Ukrainian, making it fiendishly difficult to put together a majority.

So it was no surprise that the attempt by GERB, the oligarchical but pro-western party that won the most seats last October, to form a viable coalition was unsuccessful. Its prime ministerial nominee, Nikolay Gabrovski, lost a vote of confidence before Christmas by 125 to 113. Less surprising still was the failure of the next two nominees, from the reformist PP and the establishment centre-left.

Now the voters are being asked, again, to sort out the problem. Opinion polls at this stage suggest little change in the last four months – not enough to change the basic arithmetic. At some point, the warring politicians are going to have to come to terms.


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