The new government in Lithuania may be led by the Conservatives or the Farmers and Greens

The forthcoming legislative elections in Lithuania are scheduled to take place in October 2020. Potentially, more political parties may be able able to enter the parliament, as in December 2019 the electoral threshold has been decreased to 3% for single parties and 5% for coalitions.

In Lithuanian politics, party alliances change rather dynamically with the most recent shift taking place within the current government coalition structure. The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVZS) was forced to look for new coalition partners as in 2017 the center-left Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (LSDP) pulled out from the government coalition. It was replaced by the Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (LSDDP), with the Polish minority Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance (LLRA) and right-wing Order and Justice party (TT) also joining the government coalition subsequently.

Meanwhile, the current polls demonstrate a decrease in electoral support of the governing parties. The conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-KD) is the leading political force at the moment, scoring almost twice as good as LVZS. LSDDP is at risk of not being able to enter the new parliament, as its level of support is below 3%.

We consider the following coalition constraints. Due to past differences between LVZS and LSDP, we exclude the feasibility of this coalition in the future. Similarly, a coalition of TS-KD and LLRA, which broke down in 2014 is also excluded. Based on these constraints and the current polls, we present our forecast of government formation in Lithuania:

Constraints in coalition formation

Projected seats (bar size) vs. strategic influence of political parties (red lines)

Predicted government coalitions (white line denotes the level of stability)

The most stable (most likely) government formation scenario implies a government led by LVZS, which also comprises the Labor party (DP), the Liberals Movement of the Republic of Lithuania (LRLS), TT and LLRA. All other coalition scenarios are dominated by TS-KD, with the most stable including LSDP and DP or TT.

Regional elections in Spain: a left-wing government might be formed in the Basque Country

Early elections in Spanish regions Basque Country and Galicia are to take place on April 5th. While, according to the current polls, center-right People’s Party (PP) holds a single majority in Galicia, multiple coalition formation scenarios may be possible in the Basque Country.

The Basque National Party (PNV), the leader of the current Basque government, also remains the most widely supported political party according to the current polls. Its coalition partner, the Socialist Party of the Basque Country-Basque Country Left (PSE-EE), scores the 3d after leftist and pro-independence Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu). PSE-EE is the regional affiliate of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) led by Pedro Sánchez, the current prime minister of Spain. Right-wing Vox is taking part in the Basque region elections for the first time, and it is not clear whether the party will be able to enter the Basque parliament.

To provide our forecast of government formation, we consider the following constraints. The center-right alliance of People’s Party and Citizens (PP+Cs) excludes cooperation with left-wing Elkarrekin Podemos (EP-IU) and EH Bildu. PNV and EH Bildu, despite some common ground in advocating Basque national interests, have pronounced economic and social disagreements. Based on these constraints and the data from public opinion polls we provide our forecast.

Constraints in coalition formation

Projected seats (bar size) vs. strategic influence of political parties (red lines)

Predicted government coalitions (white line denotes the level of stability)

Most stable (most likely) coalition formations scenario implies a left-wing government led by PSE-EE in cooperation with EP-IU and EH Bildu. A renewal of the current PNV – PSE-EE coalition constitutes a less likely alternative to the left-wing government. However, this time PSE-EE may take the lead, as it may have a power to choose between the two feasible coalitions.

OL’aNO likely to form the new government in Slovakia

The outcome of the Elections signifies a shift in the political landscape of Slovakia: the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak seems to have brought the topic of alleged government corruption to the focus of the public debate. As a result, two of the parties from the previous government coalition, the right Slovak National Party (SNS) and Hungarian minority party Most-Hid (MH), did not pass the threshold and will not be a part of the new parliament, while the Direction – Social Democracy (Smer-SD) lost its leading positions.

At the same time, the opposition force Ordinary People (OL’aNO-NOVA) founded as an anti-corruption protest party is celebrating a convincing victory: it managed to secure 53 out of 150 parliamentary seats. Other political parties represented in the new parliament are Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), For the People party (ZL) and We are Family (Sme Rodina), while the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Progressive Slovakia-Together coalition (PS+SPOLU) did not manage to pass the electoral threshold.

We consider the following constraints in coalition formation. SaS and ZL are members the non-aggression pact, which implies that cooperation with Smer-SD is excluded. Another constraint in coalition formation concerns the ultra-right People’s Party – Our Slovakia (LSNS): nearly all other parties exclude the opportunity to cooperate with it within one government coalition.

We provide our forecast based on the election results and constraints in coalition formation discussed above:

Constraints in coalition formation

Projected seats (bar size) vs. strategic influence of political parties (red lines)

Predicted government coalitions (white line denotes the level of stability)

We expect OL’aNO-NOVA to form the new government, as it is present in every coalition formation scenario. The most stable (most likely) coalitions also include 2 parties out of SaS, ZL and Sme Rodina. The coalition between OL’aNO-NOVA and Smer-SD is less likely.

North Macedonia may be remaining on the European track after the snap elections in April

North Macedonia seems to be approaching a significant milestone defining further development of the country: as the talks about EU accession stall, its prime minister, Zoran Zaev from the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), resigns allowing the future of the country to be decided in the snap elections on April 12th. Meanwhile, the EU talks complications give rise to the right-wing powers within the country.

According to the polls dated Novermber-December 2019, social-democratic SDSM and center-right to right-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) are the leading political forces in North Macedonia. At the same time, the Albanian minority interests Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the junior partner in the current SDSM-led coalition, refuses to exclude the possibility of coalition with VMRO-DPMNE in hopes to achieve a kingmaker status in the coming government formation process. The Left (Levica) criticizes both major parties (SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE) and rules out cooperation with them. Based on these constraints and the current polls, we present our forecast of government formation in North Macedonia:

Constraints in coalition formation
Projected seats vs. strategic influence of political parties

Predicted government coalitions
White dot denotes stability coefficient

With the considered level of electoral support of the political parties, the most stable (the most likely) government formation scenario implies an SDSM-led government in coalition with smaller players: Albanian minority parties Besa Movement (Besa), Alliance for Albanians (AA), the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), conservative Democratic Alternative (DA) and other smaller parties. In this scenario SDSM is able to avoid the need for cooperation with DUI or with less likely VMRO-DPMNE, however, the feasibility of this coalition depends on the actual elections outcome (whether the smaller players can secure enough parliamentary seats). Second most stable scenario involves VMRO-DPMNE, DUI and AA.

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Who will lead the new government in Ireland?

With general elections in Ireland approaching rapidly (February 8th, 2020), the uncertainty increases, as none of the political parties has a definite potential to lead the new government. According to the January seat projection provided by RTÉ, neither of the two major Irish parties, Fine Gael (FG) or Fianna Fáil (FF), both liberal-conservative, have a strong advantage in forming the new cabinet. FG, which has secured the post of Taoiseach, the head of government in Ireland, in the two last election cycles, is losing support, while the left-wing Irish republican Sinn Féin (SF) has gained ground.

Since the 1930s either FG or FF has been leading the Irish government in cooperation with minor coalition partners. For now, FF has the strongest results in terms of the projected seats, but FG follows closely, which means that either still have a chance to secure the Taoiseach post depending on the election results. Even though none of these two parties demonstrates a clear advantage in this election cycle, they still rule out cooperation with SF. Based on this constraint, we present our forecast of the outcome of the government formation process in Ireland.

Constraints in coalition formation

Projected seats vs. strategic influence of political parties

Predicted government coalitions

The most stable coalition scenario implies a government led by FF in coalition with the Green, Labour and other smaller parties and independent candidates. The other scenario that might be realized is a coalition of FF and FG, which in the case of Ireland, where these two parties have never governed together, could mean a minority government led by FF and supported by FG.

A further opportunity for either FF or FG could lie in the revision of the commitment to not cooperate with SF, however, at this moment none of the key parties seem to be ready to resort to it.

Update (February 11th, 2020)

Constraints in coalition formation
Projected seats vs. strategic influence of political parties
Predicted government coalitions

After the great success in the elections left-wing Sinn Féin (SF), who secured 37 seats (only one seat below the largest party Fianna Fáil (FF)), has the chance to form the new government. The potential coalition includes Green Party (GP) and independent MPs in combination with two parties out of Social Democrats (SD), Labour Party (LP), or Solidarity-People Before Profit (SPBP). While SF is expected to secure the prime-minister seat, most of the other ministries are projected to be distributed among its coalition partners.

Our analysis shows that coalition formation scenarios involving FF or Fine Gael (FG) are also plausible, but less stable.

Opposition has a chance to lead the new government in Slovakia after the parliamentary election

Slovak parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 29, 2020 and might bring significant shifts in the government coalition, which is currently led by Direction – Social Democracy (Smer-SD) and includes the right Slovak National Party (SNS) and hungarian minority party Most-Hid (MH). The positions of the parties in power have been significantly weakened by the two major events that took place in the recent years: the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée resulting in massive anti-government protests, and Zuzana Čaputová, the opposition candidate from the Progressive Slovakia party (PS), winning presidential elections in March of 2019.

Moreover, the 4 four opposition parties, the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), the Progressive Slovakia-Together coalition (PS+SPOLU) and the centrist For the People party (ZL), have started cooperating and joined a non-aggression pact. Participation in the pact implies that cooperation with the current government coalition is excluded and the parties declare their intentions to find common ground in policy-related issues.

Another constraint in coalition formation concerns the ultra-right People’s Party – Our Slovakia (LSNS): nearly all other parties exclude the opportunity to cooperate with it within one government coalition. Based on these constraints and the poll data provided by Focus-Research dated 10-14th of January, we present our forecast of government formation in Slovakia after the parliamentary elections in 2020.

Constraints in coalition formation
Projected seats vs. strategic influence of political parties
Predicted government coalition

Based on the information available at this moment, we do not see much opportunity for the current government coalition to stay in power. This time the 4 opposition parties, SaS, KDH, PS+SPOLU and ZL, have a chance to form a government. However, to obtain the majority in parliament, they would still need to secure support of other parties, the center-right Ordinary People and right-oriented We are Family parties. Under this scenario, the Progressive Slovakia-Together coalition has potential to lead the new government, taking into account its recent success in the presidential elections. As for the power distribution, we expect it to be very egalitarian, as all six parties are needed to form the parliamentary majority.

A New Parliament for the European Union

This year’s European Parliament (EP) election marks a shift in the traditional power distribution: for the first time in the history of the institution the coalition of the liberal-conservative European People’s Party (EPP) and social-democratic Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) is not expected to secure the majority of seats. The EP is confronting a shift of its base towards the right wing: anti-immigration and eurosceptic Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) is gaining significant ground according to current polls. The left-wing Greens/ European Free Alliance (Greens/ EFA) and the centrist Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE) are also projected to acquire some additional seats compared to 2014 when the previous election took place.

How will these changes affect the majority coalition in the EP? To answer this question, we apply our methodology (Gamson-Shapley stability analysis) and the following constraints on coalition formation. We expect that no consensus may be formed between the right wing of the EP (ENF, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR)) and the left wing (Greens/ EFA) and European United Left/ Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL). EPP is not likely to cooperate with GUE-NGL, due to its strong left views. Similarly, S&D is not likely to be part of an alliance with right-leaning ECR, EFDD, and ENF. We base our forecast on the assumption that Brexit will not happen before the upcoming EP election.

According to our forecast, there are three majority coalitions plausible with current polls results and within the stipulated coalition formation constraints. Predictably, those include the traditional alliance of EPP and S&D supported by the centrist ALDE, Greens/ EFA or other moderate parties (incl. Macron). Each of those three scenarios is equally stable (in terms of opportunity costs of power sharing), hence, the outcome will depend on details in the negotiation process between the parties.

Overall, the outlined coalition structure has been widely predicted. We, however, expect that further monitoring of the situation is required. Even though the main forces in the EP are likely to remain in power, significant changes may take place with regard to smaller players. A breakdown of EFDD, as well as ECR, may follow as a consequence of Brexit. Moreover, the creation of two more political groups in the EP is under discussion: the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement’s Group and far-right European Alliance of Peoples and Nations (EAPN). These processes may result in the redistribution of power within the EP and a potential impact on the majority coalition. Which coalitions do we expect to emerge in this case?

In the event of Brexit and reconfiguration of the EP forces, we still find the three coalitions formed by EPP, S&D and one of the center or left parties (ALDE, Greens/ EFA or other moderates). However, the most stable scenario in this case would exclude S&D and comprise EPP, ALDE, Greens/ EFA, and other moderate parties, breaking the long-standing alliance of EPP and S&D.

As a final remark it is worth mentioning that, as in many cases the political groups in the EP do not have a common agenda or budget, it is at the national level that parties market themselves and take risks, as well as receive support. Hence, we expect the EP election to reflect the processes that take place within the various EU member countries. The most significant impact of the EP election may very well lie in the influence that it will bring on national political landscapes. Further monitoring of developments in the European Parliament, as well as in the political life of member countries, will therefore remain important in the months following the upcoming election.

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SDP will need support from center-right parties to lead new government in Finland

Finland has seen significant growth in the number of political parties in recent decades. The fact that there is no threshold for electoral support for a party to enter the Finnish parliament allows even smaller players to achieve representation. These factors have resulted in a highly diverse landscape of political parties in the parliament, both in terms of their size and outlook, making coalition formation a potentially complicated process.

The governing coalition parties, namely: the  Centre Party (KESK / ALDE), National Coalition Party (NCP / EPP) and Blue Reform (SIN), have seen a recent decline in support. By contrast, the Social Democratic Party (SDP / S&D) is expected to become the largest party with the upcoming April 14 election. However, building a purely left-wing coalition does not seem feasible: SDP, the Green League (VIHR / Greens/EFA) and the Left Alliance (VAS / GUE/NGL) are not expected to receive enough votes to secure a majority in parliament, indicating that probably a wider coalition will be necessary to build the new government.

Considering the willingness of the players to cooperate, it is worth mentioning that all the leading parties have renounced the opportunity to work in a coalition with Finns Party (PS / ECR), due to their pronounced right-wing and anti-immigration stance. The parties that do not see a possibility for such a coalition are KESK, NCP, SDP, and VIHR. Taking into account this information we arrive at the following forecast:

Two scenarios appear most stable. Both include NCP as the leader of the new government, securing the seat of the prime minister and 3 other ministries seats. These coalitions also include VAS, Swedish People’s Party of Finland (SFP / ALDE), and KD with 3, 2, and 2 ministries respectively. Either KESK or VIHR is required to complement the governing coalition – one of these parties is expected to receive 6 ministry posts.

However, the predicted scenarios include coalitions with a highly diverse political outlook, and in some cases with dubious political viability. We, therefore, add further constraints and assume that strong left and right views cannot be allowed within one coalition. The result is the following:

The most stable coalition is now led by SDP and includes NCP, VAS and SIN. SDP is expected to secure the seat of the prime minister and 6 other ministries, while NCP, VAS, and SIN would receive 8, 1, and 1 ministries respectively. As left-wing parties would not receive enough support for a majority in parliament, SDP needs to include center-right NCP and SIN in the coalition.

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The upcoming Israeli election will bring no alternative to Likud

With the Israeli legislative election, scheduled for the 9th of April, quickly approaching, the Economist has sparked a discussion on whether a united left could become a realistic challenge against another Likud-led government. Could the opposition parties surpass the individual ambitions of their leaders, unite and defeat the long-standing front-runner?

According to Professor Shugart, this scenario is highly unlikely. It is dubious that a united opposition could muster the required number of votes to form a majority in the Knesset. Moreover, deep-rooted divisions in the agendas of opposition parties are bound to prevent the formation of such broad alliance. In his blog post, Professor Shugart carefully describes which parties may or may not be expected to be partners in the same governing coalition. We use that information, along with current poll results, to forecast possible coalition scenarios and power distribution for the next Israeli government.

First, we exclude the Joint List (JL) and Ta’al (Ta) from any possible coalitions due to their pro-Arab and anti-Zionist orientation. Neither of these two parties is expected to join a coalition of other Israeli parties, or facilitate a minority government, even if offered such an opportunity.

As far as Likud (Li) is concerned, the leading political force in the Israeli government stands strong according to current polls. However, it faces several challenges. Current coalition partners of Likud are losing electoral support, while Netanyahu, its leader, has to deal with corruption charges. In this context, several parties have announced that they will not join a coalition with Likud. These are the Labor party (La), Meretz (Me) and Gesher (Ge). The leader of the Labor party, Avi Gabay, also called for Yesh Atid (YA) and Hosen Yisrael (HY) to publicly denounce joining a Likud-led government – to no avail at this point, which most likely indicates that those parties do not rule out a possible role as future coalition partners.

Further constraints on the composition of a government coalition come from deep-seated incompatibility among some secular and religious parties. Specifically, we do not expect Yesh Atid (YA), Yisrael Beiteinu (YB) or Meretz (Me) to be in the same governing coalition with Shas (Sh) or United Torah Judaism (UTJ).

Based on the above constraints we obtain the following forecast. (Methodology: stability analysis of coalition structures according to the conditional Shapley value.)

First, it is worth noting that all winning coalitions would include Likud. At this point, we do not see any other party that represents a threat to Netanyahu’s leadership. The two most stable, and hence likely, scenarios in our forecast are a secular coalition of Li + YA/Ha + (YB) + NR, and a coalition supported by the ultra-orthodox parties, with Li + Ku + (Sh) + (UTJ) + HY. In both scenarios, Likud is expected to secure 7 cabinet members apart from the prime minister (assuming the same number of members as in the 34th Cabinet).

The former scenario, apart from Likud, includes Yesh Atid (now in coalition with Hatnuah), the New Right, and Yisrael Beiteinu as an external supporter. In such coalition Yesh Atid and Hatnuah would contribute 8 cabinet members, while the New Right would would contribute 5. In the second scenario, Kulanu and Hosen Yisrael would contribute 3 and 10 members to the new cabinet, respectively, while Shas and United Torah Judaism would provide external support.

It is important to emphasize that the situation in Israel remains very dynamic. Using a second recent poll, with slightly different support levels for the various parties, confirms that the two most likely scenarios remain a coalition with secular partners, and a coalition supported by the ultra-orthodox parties: yet, the composition and power distribution of the respective coalitions is no longer the same. Both would be led by Likud (PM + 6 cabinet members), and include Hosen Yisrael (13 cabinet members). The secular coalition would also include Yesh Atid and Hatnuah (1 cabinet member), and external support of Yisrael Beiteinu. By contrast, in a coalition which includes the ultra-orthodox parties we would expect United Torah Judaism to contribute 1 cabinet member, with Shas and Jewish Home providing external support.

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Political consequences of the 2019 Estonian parliamentary election

General elections in Estonia are scheduled for March 3 next year. Just like in a number of other European states, the country is seeing a rise in right-wing support, especially towards the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE). The party actively opposes liberal policies and European integration, as well as recent advances in same-sex unions’ rights in Estonia. EKRE is also known for using radical rhetoric, and has a history of being involved in public confrontations. Nevertheless, the party has achieved the status of third-largest political party according to recent polls. Will EKRE be able to negotiate a place within the new governing coalition in 2019?

The two parties with highest electoral support are the Estonian Reform Party (Ref) and the Estonian Centre Party (KESK). Each of these parties has been leading a government coalition at some point in the previous electoral cycle. The Reform Party formed a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and the Pro Patria (I) in April of 2015 after the previous General elections. When Taavi Rõivas, the Prime Minister from the Reform Party, didn’t obtain enough support in confidence vote of November of 2016, a new coalition was formed, in which the Centre party took instead the leading role alongside SDE and I. In the new coalition, both SDE and I received 5 ministry posts – one more than in the coalition with the Reform Party.

To forecast the structure of the governing coalition that will emerge after the General Elections in Estonia in March of 2019 we take into account the constraints to which political parties commit in terms of coalition formation. In case of Estonia, only one party – EKRE – has publicly made such a commitment. According to its leader, Mr. Helme, EKRE has ruled out the possibility of a coalition with SDE, stating that the basic values of the two parties are highly incompatible.

Based on current polls, and the information on the coalition formation process that is so far available, we formulate the following forecast on the composition and power distribution of each minimal winning coalition. (Methodology: stability analysis of coalition structures w.r.t. the conditional Shapley value)

We see several options open at this point in time. The most stable and, thus, likely outcome would be a right-wing government including the Reform Party, EKRE and E200, the newly formed political movement adhering to syncretic views, as well as promoting innovation and long-term development of the country. This coalition would be led by the Reform Party, which we expect to obtain the Prime Minister post and 5 ministries, while EKRE and E200 would get, respectively, 4 and 5 ministerial seats.

Another likely outcome could be a left-wing government led by the Centre Party and including E200 (with 3 ministries) and SDE, with SDE providing external support, or E200 (3 ministries) and I (1 ministry).

Other options seem to be less likely. Taking into account the rival ambitions of the Reform and Centre parties in wanting to lead the next government, we do not expect a coalition that includes both. A two-party coalition dominated by KESK – with EKRE receiving about 2 ministries – also appears unlikely, as EKRE would probably not want to join it in such a minor role.

We will update our forecast once further information is available. Keep track and share your opinion with us!

Update (05.02.2019):

In light of the recent changes in commitments of political parties, as well as polls results, we would like to update our forecast. Since the Reform party and E200 have excluded EKRE as a possible coalition partner, the coalition of Reform, EKRE and E200 is no longer possible. Using the recent polls results we obtain the following new forecast:

Currently, there are 2 most important and equally likely scenarios for a future government in Estonia. In the first case, the Reform party forms a coalition with SDE, I and E200. Reform will secure 6 ministry posts, apart from the prime minister. Other parties will receive 2, 4 and 2 posts respectively. In the second case, the new government will be led by KESK, which would also obtain 10 minister seats, while I would receive 4 minister posts. To make this coalition feasible, external support of EKRE is required.

A less likely, but possible scenario, puts the Reform party and KESK into one coalition.