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European Elections 2019

European elections 2019

Where are elections happening in Europe in 2019?

Elections of various levels are happening all across Europe in 2019. Recent themes around populism, pro- and anti-EU sentiments, as well as a host of local issues will come to the fore and it’s likely to throw up some unexpected outcomes. Trends that have been apparent in recent elections like the rise of digital campaigning, the impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the impact of broader societal issues such as climate change are likely to continue in 2019, so it should be pretty interesting, to say the least.

European Parliament election

The ‘big’ election is on May 26th for the European Parliament. 705 seats will be decided which will, in turn, decide who will become European Commission President through the Spitzenkandidaten process. The largest party after the election - likely to be the European People’s Party (EPP) - will have the first choice to put forward their candidate and try to get a majority of parliamentarians to back that person. It will be the first EU election post-Brexit and represents a new beginning for the slimmed down bloc. The challenge for candidates will, as always, communicating how their office is relevant to voters, especially in constituencies that are much larger than national ones. It will also be interesting to see how Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party perform and how they will align themselves within the existing party structures, ie, whether they will join the ALDE party or strike out on their own.
Voter turnout at the European elections will be closely watched as it has traditionally not been as big a draw as national elections.

National elections Europe 2019

Speaking of which, there are some intriguing national races taking place in 2019. Denmark, Finland, Belgium and Estonia will all elect new parliaments in the first half of the year. In October and November there will be national elections in Greece, Poland, Portugal and perhaps Ukraine. The majority of these national elections will result in coalitions of two or more parties to form a government. We go into more detail on each of these elections as they draw nearer.

Local elections Europe

At the local level, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Bulgaria and the UK all have local offices to be decided. Often times, these council seats will form powerful administrative entities that decide much of local policy and infrastructure. What we have seen in the past few years is the lessons learned from much larger campaigns around digital organizing, data analytics and team management, beginning to be applied by these candidates. Local elections do indicate the health of a democratic system and those city and county councils that have a degree of autonomy in how they operate do provide a better connection between the electorate and elected representatives. In this sense, it is quite opposite to the challenges faced by European Parliament candidates, but no less important for that.

Trends in political campaigning in Europe

There are a number of trends that we are seeing in European political parties and the way in which they are approaching campaigning for 2019. Though Europe is very diverse there are certain points that are being raised regularly that might be worth highlighting.

  1. The rise of populist parties and surprise election outcomes has made parties wary about voting outcomes.
  2. At the local level, politicians are extremely budget conscious around campaign costs so they are looking for affordable tech solutions to help combat traditional political campaign problems like voter awareness, advertising and so on.
  3. There is a growing understanding of the power of connected team infrastructure within political parties. Parties are concerned that disconnected constituencies and grassroots teams will have a negative impact on campaign performance.
  4. In most European countries traditional voting intentions and party affiliation has resulted in a collapse of core support or the percentage of the vote share that a party can reliably count on. This is forcing parties to borrow campaign tactics from companies who are more used to winning customers with marketing campaigns than winning votes.
  5. Digital adoption is on the rise. Very few political campaigns still operate just on pen and paper and there are now must-have tools like Ecanvasser, NationBuilder and Facebook ads that candidates are using to make their campaigning more efficient and smarter. Employing these digital tools effectively is the challenge for many campaigns but there are good overview guides out there of what works and what doesn’t.
  6. The General Data Protection Regulation is the one thing that is being mentioned by all parties. How to collect and maintain data securely will be a key concern as campaigns begin to reach out to voters.

Whether at local, national or EU level European elections in 2019 will give a fascinating insight into how European citizens view the institutions that represent them. Voter turnout might be an indicator of the perceived relevance of an election to them rather than necessarily being an indicator of the health of democracy as a whole.

If you would like to talk to us about election campaign techniques or tactics then contact us on the chat box to set up a call.

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