October 18. 2021. 6:26

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German SPD left puzzled as leftist alliance fades away

The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, through on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIV’s media network. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Editor’s take: German election exposes Europe’s ‘generational gap’. The first vote projections between different age groups have found a growing generational gap within the EU. The German youth turned it back to mainstream conservatives and socialists. In contrast, the picture of over 60-year-old voters is entirely different. Read more.

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In today’s news from the Capitals:


SPD secures win, but coalition chaos looms. For the first time in almost 20 years, the SPD has secured the top spot in the elections. However, with a left-wing alliance falling short of a majority, the party is faced with severely limited coalition options and intra-party divisions. Read more.

Parties start election poker as German election is too close to call. As Germany’s Conservatives and their Social Democrat rivals were head-to-head in Sunday’s federal election, leaders of both parties quickly claimed their right to try to build a coalition government. Read the full story here.

Also read:



French opposition reopens NATO exit debate after AUKUS submarine row. Many opposition leaders on the left and the right have recalled their position favouring France withdrawing from the NATO alliance. This discourse results from the spat between the country and the US following Australia’s announcement it was scrapping a submarine deal with France in favour of a US and UK one. Read more.



Communists win in Austria’s second-biggest city. According to current projections, the communist party has managed to win the elections for city council in Graz, Austria’s second-biggest city, with 29%. This puts them ahead of the incumbent conservatives, who lost 12% and won 25.7%. Read more.



Swiss say yes to same-sex marriage, no to higher capital income taxes. The Swiss on Sunday approved a law granting same-sex couples the right to marry with a clear majority of 64%. Still, they rejected with 65%, a constitutional amendment aiming to increase taxes on the capital income of the wealthy. These were the results of two separate national referendums that were held on Sunday. Read more.



Irish protest UK proposals for handling legacy of the Troubles. This weekend, protests were held across Ireland in opposition to the plans unveiled by the British government’s Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis. Plans announced earlier this year would set in place a statute of limitations on criminal prosecutions concerning Troubles-related incidents that occurred before April 1998, including legacy inquests and civil actions. Read more.



Sweden, Denmark and Norway sign a defence cooperation agreement. Sweden, Denmark and Norway signed a defence cooperation agreement on Friday in response to the growing tensions in the Baltic Sea and apparent Russian aggression. Still, Finland’s absence from the deal has raised a few questions. Read more.



San Marino holds referendum to legalise abortion. People of the tiny landlocked country voted in a referendum Sunday to determine whether or not to allow abortion in a country where going through the process or helping someone do so is punishable with imprisonment for six months to three years. Read more.



Former Commissioner Carlos Moedas wins Lisbon city council.

Local and regional elections were held yesterday 26 September in Portugal. The results point to a significant resurgence of the PSD centre-right party in the country. Former Commissioner Carlos Moedas, from the same party, will lead the City Council of Lisbon. Moedas, who won with 34,25% of the votes, “stole” the city town hall from the Socialist Party who held the post for the past 14 years. (Pol Afonso, EURACTIV.com)



Italian court releases former Catalan leader Puigdemont on bail. The Italian court of Sassari in Sardinia on Friday released former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont after he was detained Thursday on a European arrest warrant. Read the full story.



Greece at risk of poverty. In Greece, 21.8% of households declared their income to have decreased in the past 12 months, while 5.9% said it had increased and 72.3% said it remained the same during that period, a survey on the risk of poverty released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). The COVID-19 pandemic was cited as the main reason for the increase or decrease of income by 14.5%, of which 2.9% stated their increase, while 13% said it had decreased.

At the same time, the authority published two other reports, one on income inequality, the other on material deprivation and living conditions. According to these surveys, the share of income of the wealthiest 20% of the population is 5.2 times higher than the share of the poorest 20%, and material deprivation concerns not only the poor but also part of the non-poor population. (Kostas Argyros | EURACTIV.gr)



Czech conservative opposition neck-and-neck with PM Babis’ party. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ governing party ANO (Renew)is losing its dominant position. It’s popularity has fallen to 24.5% ahead of the elections set to take place from 8 to 9 October. Meanwhile, the conservative block SPOLU and the centre-left coalition formed by the Pirate Party (Greens/EFA) and Mayors and Independents (EPP)respectively stand at 23 and 20%, a Kantar poll published by Czech Television on Sunday shows. Read more.



Powerful NGOs attack Polish ECR MEP over gas lobby. Two powerful Brussels NGOs accused MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski of the Law and Justice (PiS) party currently part of the ECR group in the Parliament of concealing the list of lobbyists and supporting EU financing of fossil fuels. Read more.



Hungarian opposition starts finger-pointing over problematic candidates. Cooperation in the rainbow opposition coalition is being tested during the first round of primaries as PM-candidate Gergely Karácsony’s green party Párbeszéd called on other parties to stop supporting their questionable candidates on Saturday after it did the same in the capital. Read more.



Romanian PM wins party elections. Members of the National Liberal Party (PNL) elected Prime Minister Florin Citu as the conservative party’s new president. Read more.



MEP anti-corruption delegation in Bulgaria not satisfied with Prosecutor General. The delegation from the LIBE Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, on a mission monitoring the rule of law in Bulgaria, was not satisfied with its meeting with Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev, Dutch MEP and leader of the delegation Sophia in ‘t Veld (Renew Europe) said on Friday. Read more.



Croatia targeted by dozens of state-sponsored cyber attacks. Croatia has been the target of dozens of state-sponsored cyber attacks in recent years, according to a report for 2020-2021 published by the national Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA). Read more.



Northern Kosovo situation sparks international response. EU top diplomat Josep Borrell told both Serbia and Kosovo on Sunday that any new provocations or unilateral and uncoordinated actions “are unacceptable” and said he was continuing to closely follow developments in northern Kosovo. Meanwhile, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, Gabriel Escobar, said “Serbia and Kosovo should refrain from detrimental rhetoric and discuss the issue of license plates in Brussels, instead of militarising the current situation at the border,” while the Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko Stefanović accused the US and the EU of closing their eyes to the North Kosovo situation. Read more.



US to aggressively punish corruption in BiH. The US will “very aggressively” use sanctions for widespread corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the US Department of State special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, has told Voice of America. Read more.


  • EU: ECB President Lagarde addresses European Parliament’s economic committee via video link.
  • Germany: Political parties assess fallout of German election.
  • France: President Macron, WHO’s Tedros attend ceremony establishing WHO Academy.
  • Poland: Regional assembly votes to abolish anti-LGBT declaration.
  • Bulgaria: An initiative committee to nominate President Rumen Radev for a second term will be established on Monday. The presidential elections will be held together with the early parliamentary elections on 14 November.
  • Romania: European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will visit Bucharest in her Next Generation EU tour and will meet President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Florin Citu and some government members.
  • Croatia: President and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Zoran Milanović decorates US General Jon A. Jensen, Army National Guard director.
  • Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to visit Pristina.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]