Europe - Issue 17 - Magazine | Monocle

thumbnail text

Election watch


This autumn, four young European countries go to the polls. Monocle looks at whether it’s worth voting.


Parliamentary elections

28 September

The incumbent
President Alexander Lukashenko has maintained Europe’s last dictatorship since 1994 – his recipe for success includes everything from rigging elections, locking up opposition candidates and activists to gagging the media. Currently under threat is the New Life Church, an anti- Lukashenko movement with over 5,000 members, which continues to hold illegal services. Lukashenko hand- picked the sitting PM Sergei Sidorsky in 2003 and reappointed him – with the “consent” of the national assembly – for a second term in 2006.

Will he win again?
Central and Western Europe expert Jacub Swiecicki of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs: “The prime minister in Belarus is insignificant. Lukashenko is the boss. It’s the same old dictatorship ruling the country and we can’t expect it to change any time soon.”


Parliamentary elections

21 September

The incumbent
Prime minister since 2004, Janez Janša founded one of Slovenia’s first opposition parties and was defence minister in the first freely elected government in 1990.

Will he win again?
Ali Žerdin, editor of the Saturday supplement of Slovenian daily Dnevnik, says it’s impossible to call: “We have Janša, who is a very charismatic leader, or the Social Democrat, Borut Pahor, who is looking for consensus – we don’t know if he will be able to make hard decisions.”


Parliamentary elections

12 October

The incumbent
The Lithuanian prime minister, Gediminas Kirkilas, did stints as a house renovator as well as a Communist Party civil servant before climbing the ranks of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party. A former defence minister, Kirkilas was sworn in after the sitting PM left his post in 2006 amid government corruption allegations.

Will he win again?
Lithuanian columnist and political analyst Audrius Bačiulis: “It’s too early to say, but things will be more or less the same in Lithuanian politics after the elections. Parliament will be split the same way as today, which means that to form a government we will need a coalition of at least two or three parties. So we will not have a stable government.”


Presidential election

15 October

The incumbent
In 2003 Ilham Aliyev inherited Azerbaijan’s presidential post from his dad, the former head of Azerbaijan’s KGB who ruled the country with an iron fist for over 30 years. During the 1990s Aliyev junior, PhD, earned himself a reputation as a casino-playing playboy.

Will he win again?
Peter Zeihan, director of global analysis at Stratfor, a intelligence organisation: “Nobody thinks of him as being in the same class as his dad. But he has enough support from the clans, so he’s in no danger of losing his position.”

Mass appeal


Finland has a special fondness for progressive priests who engage in such activities as hosting charity galas and writing cook books. One of them – the Orthodox priest Father Mitro – appeared on the talk show G-point to talk about his celibacy. Now he plans to run for a seat in the eu parliament next summer.

Another celebrity priest, Jaakko Heinimäki – also a wine connoisseur and columnist – doesn’t see himself as an unusual man of faith. “In Finland, priests are educated in the universities, not by the Church, which gives us skills to do other things than preach,” he says. “It’s the conservative, fundamentalist priests who are the exceptions.”

Underground books


Ever thought of going to the library to borrow a book, but given up because it’s such a hassle getting there? Stockholm’s city library and transport authority have come up with a solution: bringing libraries inside metro stations.

The first, in Högdalen, is to launch by the end of the year. Next year, two more will follow, one at Östermalm station in the heart of the city.The libraries, complete with café and shop, lend early until late and people can pick up books they have ordered online.

Couped up


This issue, Monocle keeps tabs on military interference in governments around the world. Since it became a secular state in 1923, Turkey has had three coups. And in July, many believe it came close to having its fourth when 86 people were charged for allegedly mounting a plot.

Share on:






Go back: Contents



sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio


  • The Monocle Daily