The 2017 elections across Europe: facts, expectations and consequences

14 March 2017
Janis A. Emmanouilidis (Director of Studies), Francesca Fabbri (Former Policy Analyst at the EPC), Yann-Sven Rittelmeyer (Former Policy Analyst at the EPC), Adriaan Schout (Coordinator of EU affairs, Netherlands Institute of International Affairs (Clingendael)), Corina Stratulat (Head of European Politics and Institutions programme and Senior Policy Analyst) and Fabian Zuleeg (Chief Executive and Chief Economist)

In the upcoming weeks and months national elections will be held in four founding member states of the EU: the Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy. With radical, anti-establishment forces on the (far) left or (far) right side of the political spectrum riding the gusty populist headwinds across Europe (and beyond), many fear that the results will mirror earlier electoral upheavals such as Brexit and the election of Trump, raising the stakes of the votes for each national context, as well as for the EU as a whole. This Discussion Paper takes a closer look at the upcoming elections in all four countries, presenting the domestic political dynamics at play, assessing various possible governing coalitions in the aftermath of the vote and considering the potential implications of the different likely outcomes for national policymaking and European affairs. Although populists have a public mood of discontent on their side, mainstream politicians might be able to buy themselves some time, not least because Europeans seem currently hesitant about voting anti-establishment parties into office and risk adding to the geo-political and economic uncertainties prompted by the new US administration and the UK’s decision to leave the Union. However, without foresight and a persuasive narrative on why European integration continues to be a ‘win-win’ exercise for the member states and their citizens, mainstream politicians are also recklessly flirting with potential disaster looming in the future.

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