Today Latvia, Slovakia, Malta and the French Overseas Territories start voting in the European elections. The Czech Republic is voting for a second day - you can find out more about their poll here.
Taking the French Overseas Territories as an excuse to write about France now (metropolitan France is voting along with most of the rest of the Member States tomorrow - I might have a heart attack trying to fit all that in!).
France's embattled Socialist President, Hollande, is likely to be a factor in dragging down the PES vote, but from the opinion polls (in comparison to the 2009 vote), it looks like the Greens and the centre-right UMP (EPP) are the parties set to lose the most votes. The rise of the Front national has been the main concern - it's led consistently in the polls (at around 23%!). Sarkozy, the former President who seems to be angling for a comeback, has called for a huge repatriation of powers from Brussels and has argued against the borderless Schengen system.
While the prospect of a tripling of the FN vote is frightening, the votes of the other parties look remarkably stable in the polls. The Parti socialiste is sitting at around 16%, the same as last time, and the Front de gauche (UEL) and MoDem (ALDE) appear to have increased their support slightly, to 7.5% and 10% respectively. The Greens have dropped from 16% to 10% and the UMP have gone down from 27% to 21%. Does this mean that as well as traditional right-wing votes, the Green's anti-globalisation strain could be switching to FN?
Latvia has been through a lot in recent years. Though not in the Euro, the country has implemented harsh austerity and has just joined the Euro at the start of the year. Recently the Prime Minister resigned over the collapse of the roof of a supermarket in Riga, leading to the formation of a national unity government (excluding the Harmony Centre party (PES), which is a party representing Russian-speakers). Politics in Latvia can be volatile, with new parties able to break through and win elections, and with an ethnic divide between Latvian and Russian speakers. The national general election is scheduled for October 2014.
At the moment it looks like Harmony Centre will top the poll, with Unity (EPP) coming second and the Union of Greens and Farmers (NI) coming third. You can read more about the Latvian political situation in this great LSE blog post.
As a Eurozone member, Slovakia has had concerns over the bail outs - as one of the poorer Eurozone states, it has seemed unfair that Slovakia now has to help bail out some of the richer countries. Slovak politics seems to be dominated by Smer (PES), with numerous other smaller parties - in the 2009 European elections Smer topped the poll winning 5 MEPs, but the EPP won 6 MEPs across 3 member parties in the country. The right wing parties have been hit by corruption scandals in recent years.
In March there was a presidential election where an independent, Andrej Kiska beat Smer candidate and Prime Minister Robert Fico with a vote share of almost 60% in the second round of voting. In the first round of voting the two nearest competitors were also independents. So while Smer as a dominant position in the Slovak political system, there can be strong opposition from independent "outsider" candidates.
Slovakia was one of the countries with a very low turnout in 2009, and it is likely that turnout will remain low today. Smer is on 36% in the polls and is likely to win around 6 seats, with a clutch of EPP-aligned parties picking up a seat each between them.
As a small island country, Malta sends the minimum 6 MEPs to the European Parliament (up from 5 seats in the last Parliament). So far the elections have proven to be a two-party race, with the National Party (EPP) and the Labour Party (PES) dividing up the seats between them. In the last European elections the Labour Party won 3 seats to the National Party's 2.
In this election it doesn't look like much will change from the two-party nature of the poll. Interestingly, the Labour Party has got the backing of a hunting lobby group, with the incumbent MEPs pledging themselves to protecting the culture and tradition of hunting.
In the polls, Labour stands at about 54.5%, the National Party at 42.5%, and the Greens have 2%. If this is the result at the ballot box, both the Labour Party and National Party will get 3 seats each.