CEE's authoritarian nationalists seek to 'occupy' Brussels

CEE's authoritarian nationalists seek to 'occupy' Brussels
Brothers in arms: Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni with her Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban. / bne IntelliNews
By Robert Anderson in Prague June 3, 2024

The European Parliament elections this weekend are expected to show a shift to the radical and far right across the bloc, and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) – where populist and authoritarian nationalists first broke through into power – is once again leading the charge.

Twenty years after CEE countries first joined the European Union – where they now make up around a quarter of the parliament’s seats – the radical right is likely to come first in four of the region’s 11 EU member states, plus parties with similar views are in the lead in another two countries. These states include all four Visegrad states of Central Europe. In many CEE countries at least soft Eurosceptic views have now become established as the mainstream opinion, as bne IntelliNews explored in an earlier article.

The radical right winners will definitely include Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, which has ruled Hungary continuously since 2010 and has so deformed that country’s democracy that Freedom House now categorises it as a hybrid regime. The radical right is also likely to win in Poland (where Law and Justice was in power until last October’s general election), in Bulgaria (which is holding a general election at the same time),  and Slovenia.

In Czechia and Slovakia parties that share the same radical right-wing views are also set to win. In Slovakia the nominally leftwing ruling Smer party has carved out a narrow lead following the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Robert Fico last month. In Czechia, billionaire Andrej Babis’ supposedly unideological ANO party (a member of the liberal Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, at least for now) is maintaining its lead over the ruling centre-right Spolu coalition.

Elsewhere, far right parties are expected to perform strongly in Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia. The boundary between the radical right and far right is also becoming more and more difficult to draw – as a right-wing lovefest held by Spain’s Vox party in Madrid last month illustrated – though as a rule of thumb the far right typically claim to want to leave the EU and are more likely to admire Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

As in Western Europe, CEE’s far right has been legitimised by entering government, usually with centre-right partners that have often adopted many of their policies. Croatia’s Homeland Movement joined the ruling rightwing coalition last month, while Slovakia’s SNS formed a coalition with Smer and Hlas, leading to both leftwing parties being suspended by the PES umbrella group for Europe’s Socialists.  Ironically, Smer and Hlas are likely to be among the very few success stories for the Socialist group in CEE.

The expected surge at the EP election follows four fallow years for CEE’s populists, partly because of COVID-19 and the Ukraine war. While CEE’s far right often benefited from anti-vaxx conspiracy theories, the radical right was often forced onto the back foot by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as they had the bad luck to be in power in Hungary and Poland and struggled to deal with it. The pandemic exposed their governments’ incompetence and their reliance on Brussels for vaccines and reconstruction funds, unless they were able to dominate the media narrative, as in Hungary.

Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 also put both the radical and far right at a disadvantage, because they had often built close links with Moscow and were tarnished by association.

But this has now changed. More than two years on, fatigue with the war and fear of escalation is being used by CEE populists to attack centrist rivals and Brussels, which are accused of reinforcing Kyiv’s alleged intransigence through military aid and sanctions on Moscow, and failing to pursue “peace”. This narrative is dominating the state propaganda campaign in Hungary, but is also a big theme in the ruling coalition’s messaging in Slovakia, which closely follows the Orban playbook. Russian disinformation is also playing its part, notably in Slovakia and Bulgaria, both countries with strong residual affinity to Russia.

Elsewhere this tactic does not work so well. On Nato’s Eastern Flank, in Poland and the Baltic states, security is naturally a key topic, and it is one that the ruling centre-right parties are using to reinforce their support. Meanwhile, in South-Eastern Europe, the war is not such a big issue and domestic political issues remain dominant.

Will the right capture Brussels?

What will this forecast populist surge mean for the EU? It will not mean a rush of countries leaving the EU. Broadly Eurosceptic, the radical right only ever flirted with leaving the EU, because EU funds have become vital to both propping up domestic economies and, particularly in Hungary, as sources of patronage and corruption. The calamity of Brexit has made even the hint of leaving the EU now look ridiculous.

Instead, Orban, the grandiose self-appointed leader of CEE’s populists, has declared that its expected surge in support will enable the united right to “occupy” Brussels. Hungary’s turn holding the EU’s rotating president from July could give him the perfect opportunity to proclaim victory – if it happens.

“The Hungarian government will definitely use the symbolic power of the EU presidency for their message,” analyst Bulcsu Hunyadi told a webcast of Hungary’s Political Capital think-tank last week. “It is the actual goal of the Hungarian government to change the mainstream in the EU.”

The stream is flowing the right's way. Outside the 11 CEE member states, in the other 16 EU states radical right or far right parties, often with fascist roots, are currently in government in Italy, Finland and the Netherlands, while in Sweden the Sweden Democrats prop up the centre-right government. In Italy, Belgium (which is also holding a general election) and the Netherlands, the populist right is expected to come first in the EP election, and also in Austria and France, where polls indicate it could also take power in both countries at the national level at the next elections. Therefore, in total, populist parties may come first in 11 of the 27 member states, six of whom are in CEE.

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which embraces mostly radical right-wing Eurosceptics, could move from fourth to become the third largest contingent in the European Parliament, according to opinion polls. Together with the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group, the combined populist right could even have more seats than the largest grouping, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).

This has led to feverish speculation of a realignment on the right, perhaps through a union of the ECR and ID groups, and/or a coalition between the ECR and the EPP. The ejection of Germany’s neo-fascist AfD from the ID group has made closer cooperation more conceivable. The way Italy’s Georgia Meloni seems to cross over between the ECR and ID groups, while maintaining good relations with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, has also encouraged this talk.

Hungary’s large Fidesz contingent – currently without a group after leaving the EPP in 2021 before it was thrown out – is in the mix here as Orban reportedly wants to join the ECR, though he has moved closer to the ID group in his views in recent years. Orban has also repeatedly called for a united right.

“There could be more co-operation between ECR and ID, and also with EPP. That opens the door for larger cooperation with right-wing groups in the European Parliament,” says Hunyadi.

However, feuds between ECR and ID parties in several countries make a united group unlikely. Populists don’t believe in compromise, so they often have problems cooperating. Moreover, the ID group’s sympathies for Putin make it virtually a pariah in Brussels and rule out deep co-operation with the EPP.

Several smaller ECR members have even threatened to quit if the pro-Russian Fidesz party is allowed to join, and Orban’s potential membership of the group is seen as an impediment to working with the EPP.

Yet, despite these continuing frictions, the likely shift to the right in the European Parliament is bound to affect the composition of the next European Commission. This can already be seen by von der Leyen’s overtures to the ECR, which have been fiercely criticised by the European Socialists, the EPP’s traditional partner in the parliament.

“Going into this election it is the EPP that has adopted the agenda of the ECR,” commented Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde on a Voxeurop webcast last month. 

The elections could also be important for the way they give a push to several right-wing  parties in upcoming general elections, notably the Freedom Party in Austria this autumn and Babis’ ANO in Czechia next year. If these parties are able to maintain their momentum, at the very least Orban would not be so alone in his obstructive stance in the European Council, which could eventually weaken the EU’s strong stance against Putin.

Analysts have pointed at policies such as the Green Deal, the compromise EU parliament deal on migration in April, as well as the EU’s attempts to punish violators – notably Hungary – of the  rule of law as initiatives that could now be under threat. Furthermore, any drive to extend majority voting to prepare for further enlargement of the EU would be stillborn. In short, all the policies detested by CEE’s populists could soon be in their sights.

Below bne IntelliNews' correspondents report on the European Parliament campaigns in their countries:


The threat of Russia has tangibly bolstered the importance of the EU (as well as of Nato) as the guarantor of the Baltic states’ security ahead of the 2024 European Parliament elections. As a result, a  larger than usual turnout in all three countries is expected and Euroscepticism is being downplayed.

According to a Eurobarometer survey from April, defence and security are the top issues for most Baltic voters. Defence and security issues matter most to 60 per cent of Lithuanians. This is the highest in the EU; Finns were the second most likely to mention this topic, followed by Denmark, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Poland.

In Estonia, an economic slump, for over one and a half years now, will certainly boost the electoral prospects of the radical right-wing parties EKRE and Isamaa. The ruling party, Reform, is expected to be outstripped by EKRE and even Isamaa in the number of EP mandates.

In Lithuania, the ruling bloc parties (the Homeland Union, the Liberal Movement and Freedom Party) are expected to fare worse than the opposition parties, the Greens and Peasants Union, the Democratic Union “For Lithuania” and the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party.

Latvia’s ruling party, the centre-right New Unity faces a challenge in the elections, too, as it is at the centre of several scandals. It turned out that the party’s former Prime Minister Krisjanis Kariņs used over €1mn for expensive private flights during his work as the PM. It is likely that the voters will support “New Unity”, but Kariņs will be left out.


Bulgarian voters are more preoccupied with the deep political crisis in their own country and the vote for the European Parliament will not be the focus of their interest on June 9, when the country will also vote for a new Bulgarian parliament – for the sixth time since April 2021.

The June 9 vote could send more far-right politicians to the European Parliament than ever. The pro-Russian Vazrazhdane party has been gaining momentum and could rank second both at the snap general election and the vote for the EP on the same day.

One of the possible reasons behind Vazrazhdane’s success is the disappointment of Bulgarian voters since the other political parties have failed to form a stable government since April 2021. That is expected to result in a lower turnout, from which the parties with stable supporters will benefit.

Vazrazhdane is also gaining because of Russian disinformation, combined with the constantly worsening performance of the other big pro-Russian party in Bulgaria – the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). BSP’s leader Kornelia Ninova is trying hard to steal votes from Vazrazhdane but instead is pushing away the party’s traditional supporters.

The expected low turnout (below or around 40%) will also benefit the Gerb party, which, though claiming to be pro-Western, has favoured close relations with Russian interests in the past, including the construction of the TurkStream section through Bulgaria that helped the Kremlin bypass Ukraine for deliveries of natural gas. Gerb’s year-long unofficial ally, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), is also expected to gain from the low turnout.


For Croatia, the European Parliament elections come amid a busy election year, and have been very much overshadowed by the general election in April that delivered another win for Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), albeit without a majority. While the HDZ is now embarking on its third consecutive term in power, it had to team up with the far-right Homeland Movement.

Coming two months after the hotly contested general election, which pitted Plenkovic against his populist rival President Zoran Milanovic, the European Parliament provides the first test for the new government.

Campaign issues have been similar to those in the recent general election, though the debate has been lower key. The chief domestic concerns are the performance of Croatia’s economy, which has been among the strongest in the EU recently, while the opposition has sought to capitalise on a string of corruption scandals involving ministers in the previous HDZ government.

Migration is another issue; not only is Croatia on one of the migration routes from the Middle East to Western Europe, it also depends on foreign labour, especially seasonal work in its tourism and construction sectors.

On the other hand, Croatia’s position vis-a-vis Russia and Ukraine — with Plenkovic’s government strongly backing Kyiv, while Milanovic has been criticised for his more pro-Russian stance — has been less prominent than it was ahead of the general election.


Traditionally Eurosceptical Czechia could send even bigger contingents of EU critics to the EP than last time around. Of the 21 seats, two thirds of the MEPs could be Eurosceptic or even anti-EU.

The STEM/Mark poll compiled for Institute H21 in the second half of May shows the populist Eurosceptic ANO party of billionaire ex-Prime Minister Andrej Babis to be in the lead with 26.1%, giving it six seats.

It is followed by the joint SPOLU list with 22.3% and five seats. SPOLU is comprised of three of the ruling coalition parties, the neoliberal and Eurosceptic ODS, the liberal centre-right TOP 09, and the Christian Democratic KDU-CSL.

Two more parties and three more joint lists are projected to cross the 5% threshold to win seats. The junior coalition parties, the socially liberal Pirate Party (12.1% and 3 seats), and the centrist Mayors (8.1% and 3 seats), are two of the most pro-EU parties in Czech politics.

For this election, the far-right SPD, whose leaders have repeatedly invoked Czexit, has joined forces with Trikolora (Tricolour) and is projected to collect 7.7%. The Czech Communist Party, which disappeared from the Czech parliament in 2021, has joined forces with marginal nationalist parties on the Stacilo! [Enough!] list. Stacilo, which is projected to collect 7.7%, is also Eurosceptic and calls for an end to EU’s military support of Ukraine.

Stacilo! is followed by the list of the rightwing Eurosceptic Pledge [Prisaha] party and anti-Green Motorists whose leader, Filip Turek – a climate-change denier who sold dubious sprays against “parasites” during the COVID-19 pandemic – has vowed to drive to Brussels with a powerful combustion engine.

With Pledge and the Motorists polling at 7.2%, Turek looks set to collect the projected MEP seat for his list. Stacilo! could be represented by its leader and MEP veteran Katerina Konecna, while SPD and Tricolour is led by former MEP and rightwing Eurosceptic Petr Mach.  Next to Turek and Mach, Green Deal critics on the SPOLU list such as the leading candidate Alexandr Vondra appear as moderates.


Despite Viktor Orban’s bravura talk of taking over Brussels, his Fidesz party faces a significant challenge at the European Parliament elections from new challenger Peter Magyar’s Tizsa party. Magyar is running at  20-25%  support.

There has been a slow but steady erosion of Fidesz support since the paedophile pardon scandal four months ago, which led to the resignation of the president and the justice minister.

Magyar’s TISZA will face its first test at the June 9 European parliamentary and local elections, where its results will serve as an indicator of the newcomer’s prospects in what is a politically highly polarized society.

So far Magyar appears to be taking more votes from the fragmented opposition parties than from Fidesz itself, and there remain questions over his real attitude to the Orban regime. Towards the EU, he also appears to hold soft Eurosceptic views.

Meanwhile, using Fidesz’s dominance of the public and private media, and a massive social media campaign, Orban has successfully depicted his party as the only obstacle to Hungary becoming entangled in the Ukraine war.  

He told a rally last weekend that Hungary can only stay out of the war if Fidesz achieves the largest electoral victory in Europe on June 9. He warned that every week "brings us closer to war." and that Europe "might be bringing Russian forces closer" by financing Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto had falsely claimed the EU was planning to introduce an EU-wide compulsory military conscription, a misinformation that had been amplified by Orban’s vast propaganda machine in recent weeks.

In what are set to be free but unfair elections, Fidesz is expected to win  around 45% of the vote and 10-11 of Hungary’s 21 MEP seats.


For an EU election, Poland's is a lot about Russia.

In one video advocating the highest possible turnout at the polling stations on June 9, a group of people is being herded at gunpoint to an armoured vehicle that drives them into an isolated place where they are forced out,  to find themselves surrounded by armed men in non-descript uniforms.

A man addresses the people – in Russian. “Do you think it’s not about you? That you don’t need to be involved?” he tells them.

“Well, scumbags…” the man says while his troops begin aiming their guns at the terrified people.

But one woman raises her hand defiantly, holding a pen. Others follow suit, baffling the hostile troops. “We’re not going to give Europe away,” the video says.

The Akcja Demokracja video sums up the dominant mood of the EU vote next weekend well. As news multiplies about Russian provocations, disinformation, and sabotage – cue a fire that destroyed one of Warsaw's biggest shopping centres earlier this month – many Poles are on edge.

For the first time in over three decades, Poland’s eastern borders are at their most vulnerable. 

Russia’s heavily militarised Kaliningrad region to the north and Russia’s ally Belarus to the east make for a combined 650-km long stretch of utmost concern now that another neighbour – Ukraine – has been bombed daily for over two years now on the orders of the Kremlin. 

Poland’s fellow EU member states that border on Russia – Finland, and the Baltic States – are all boosting their border defence capabilities.

Tension has grown even more in Poland since the movement of migrants along the border with Belarus - orchestrated by Minsk, Poland says – has intensified in recent weeks.

The campaign is not alleviating the fears much. If anything, it has fuelled them.

The government has all but hijacked the run-up to the vote by mooting a PLN10bn (€2.4bn) defence plan, dubbed “East Shield”, which will see Poland’s borders with Belarus and Russia reinforced by anti-tank “dragons’ teeth” and trenches put in place between the region’s thick forests and swamps.

After a border guard was reportedly stabbed by a migrant at the Polish-Belarusian border earlier this week, the government is reinstating a no-go zone along a roughly 3-5 km-wide belt along the border as of June 4. 

The restrictions will be in place for an initial period of 90 days, covering the entire summer and thus the peak of the tourist season. This spells trouble for the region’s economy.

But the logic of political campaigning in Poland since last October is unrelenting. 

Prime Minister Donald Tusk is touting the vote as a choice between Poland in Europe and Poland exposed and vulnerable to a hybrid, or even a hot, war with Russia. The fiery debate about the EU’s Green Deal – a set of measures to address the climate crisis that inspired farmer protests – is but a faint echo now.

“We are one step away from pro-Russian forces openly starting to gain the upper hand in Europe,” Tusk told an election rally in Bialystok, a key city in Poland’s north-east, just under 100 km from the Belarusian border.

“The history of Poland in the coming years, or maybe decades, will largely depend on what the authorities in the EU will look like,” Tusk also said.

The choice seems quite the opposite for the biggest opposition party, the until-recently ruling Law and Justice (PiS). Not mentioning Russia, PiS tells its voters that the future composition of the European Parliament and the European Commission will determine whether Poland ends up “poor” and with its economy “destroyed” by the Green Deal. 

“It is in our hands to stop the dictatorial tendencies of the European Commission,” former PiS PM Beata Szydło wrote on X.

Latching onto PiS’ anti-EU message, Tusk has been painting PiS as nearly open agents of Russia, who are seeking to weaken the EU just as it is beginning to get its act together on better-sustained support for Ukraine.

Critics of the government have said that Tusk  is covering up the shortcomings of his government – in office since mid-December – with aggressive campaign rhetoric for an election that does not matter much to most Poles.

Indeed, the turnout in EU votes in Poland has traditionally been low. Except for the 2019 election, turnout has never been more than 25%.

A low turnout will likely favour PiS with its more disciplined electorate,  which is what drives Tusk to make the voting about PiS and Russia rather than anything focused on the EU.  Tusk's  voters would likely consider most EU-focussed issues lukewarm and not worth the effort.

At an average of 30.5%, Tusk's centrist party, the Civic Platform, is virtually on a par with PiS at an average of 30.9% in May polls, according to wybory.eu, a Polish poll results aggregator.

Civic Platform’s coalition partners, the conservative Third Way and the Left, averaged 10.4% and 8.7%, respectively, in May. The far-right anti-EU Konfederacja is at 8.7%.

The EU vote in Poland could also change the momentum in domestic politics.

A good result by PiS will give the party stamina less than a year before the presidential election which will be a make-or-break event for the Tusk government, currently slowed down by President Andrzej Duda, a stalwart PiS ally who cannot stand again.

A government-friendly president could, in turn, be a body blow for PiS if the party is left without any key centre of power.


The elections for the European Parliament in Romania are overshadowed by the local elections held on the same date, and are seen as the final test before the legislative and presidential elections  this autumn.

The ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals expect to win and “take it all,” but sharing remains an issue and independent Mircea Geoana may interfere with their plans when it comes to the presidential elections.

The mayoral elections for Bucharest alone, for instance, have received much more attention than all the EU-related public debates, which were not many and hardly heated.

The major public debates related to the European elections were also of a domestic nature and involved the setting of the electoral calendar and joint lists of candidates. The Social Democrats (PSD) and Liberals (PNL) had a hard time sketching a joint electoral policy, which remained partial and full of contradictions. There was simply no time left for hard debates about decarbonisation, migration and the Common Agricultural Policy.

The coalition of two parties has dominated the national political stage since 2021 and expects to get together some 40%-45% of the votes and more than 50% of the 33 MEP seats. A lower score would be a major warning sign and knock the chances of them maintaining their alliance after June 9.

Genuine European topics have never been on the national public agenda in Romania because all the parties share more or less openly, to a higher or lesser degree, the same nationalist and conservative views.

An exception to the lack of disagreements among parties may be fiscal policy and this is because decisions have to be actually taken starting the next day after the general elections this autumn to address what is likely to become by that time a significant fiscal slippage.

While the Social Democrats are likely to increase the effective corporate taxation rate and extend social policies, the Liberals seek to maintain their “pro-business” rhetoric and what is among the most favourable corporate taxation and overall fiscal regimes among the EU member states.

The far right Alliance for the Union of Romanians and the score it will get is one of the very few actual variables in the equation of the European elections  in Romania. AUR is fuelled by voters’ frustration with the economic and social disparities that in Romania are the highest in Europe.

The party is more the creation of the ruling majority and mass media, though. However, that doesn’t mean it could not get a score in the high double digit region. A critical benchmark is whether AUR will surpass the “democratic opposition” formed by the reformist USR and its smaller allies. This is not impossible after USR disappointed both in government and in opposition since it was given over 15% of the votes (compared to AUR’s 9%) in December 2020.

The apparition of AUR is now used by the PSD/PNL alliance as a justification for its (otherwise oxymoronic) very existence.  With an electorate formed by protest voters rather than (as implied by Social Democrats and Liberals) pro-Russian voters, the party is Eurosceptic  but not against the EU as such, given that the electorate is predominantly pro-EU and even more pro-Nato/US), while historically inclined to reject Russia’s influence.


The EP elections in Slovakia are also expected to show strong support for Eurosceptic and anti-EU parties. The latest May polls by IPSOS agency in Slovakia show that the ruling leftist Smer party has narrowly edged ahead of the main opposition leading party, the liberal centrist Progressive Slovakia (PS), which had been leading the race prior to the May 15 assassination attempt on populist Prime Minister and Smer boss Robert Fico. Smer, which has become increasingly Eurosceptic, is now on 24.4%, with the strongly pro-EU PS on 23.5%.

The third-placed Hlas (10.3%) holds pro-EU views, but like Smer was ejected from the European grouping of Socialists and Democrats after it formed a cabinet with the far-right SNS.

The polls also show a surge in support for the neofascist and anti-EU Republika, which is on 9%. The conservative Christian Democratic KDH also looks poised to appear in the EP with 7.1% support. The neoliberal and Eurosceptic SaS (5.7%) polls just above the 5% threshold, as does the Eurosceptic populist Movement Slovakia (5.3%).

Smer and PS would collect four MEPs each, while Hlas and Republika two each and KDH, SaS and Movement Slovakia one each.    


Disillusionment among voters with the current government led by Prime Minister Robert Golob has led to a significant decline in electoral support for the Freedom Movement (Gibanje Svoboda), with projections indicating a decrease by almost half.  Its list, led by MEP Irena Joveva, is forecast to win 14% support, which could potentially secure them two mandates.

The opposition right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) led by former prime minister Janez Jansa is expected to secure the highest number of votes.

In a recent poll conducted by the Ninamedia agency for daily Dnevnik, the SDS party list, headed by current MEP Romana Tomc, emerged as the frontrunner with 22% of respondents backing them, translating to 27.4% of identified voters. Such a result could earn the SDS at least three seats in the European Parliament out of a total of nine allotted to Slovenian representatives.

Ahead of this year's elections, SDS has shifted further towards the far-right end of the political spectrum. Its candidate list now includes MPs known for espousing hate speech against migrants and expressing sympathy for far-right groups.

Surprisingly, the green non-parliamentary party Vesna, led by Kocevo Mayor Vladimir Prebilic, has seen a surge in support, garnering 11% of respondents' backing. The party's unprecedented rise in popularity has led to speculation that they could even secure two mandates, should their momentum continue.

Trailing behind are the Social Democrats (SD), led by current MEP Matjaz Nemec, with 9.3% of respondents' support, also giving them potentially two seats.

According to the Ninamedia survey, the Christian democratic NSi party received 6.3% support from respondents and nearly 8% support from identified voters. In the previous elections five years ago, NSi secured one mandate out of eight, indicating a stronger performance than anticipated for the upcoming elections.

Reporting by Robert Anderson in Prague (Hungary), Linas Jegelevicius in Vilnius (Baltic states), Denitsa Koseva in Sofia (Bulgaria), Albin Sybera in Ljubljana (Czechia and Slovakia), Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw (Poland), Valentina Dimietrievska in Skopje (Slovenia), Iulian Ernst in Bucharest (Romania) and Clare Nuttall in Glasgow (Croatia).