Mixed verdict in Slovakia elections

Slovakia had a parliamentary election on Sunday, June 13, in which right-wing parties elected the most deputies. This comes on top of elections in the Czech Republic and Hungary, in both of which countries the right made advances.

In the Slovakian election, the Social Democratic Party (SMER) headed by Prime Minister Robert Fico got more votes than any one other party and considerably more than it did in the last parliamentary election in 2006 (it went from 671,185 votes, or 29.14 percent, to 880,111, or 34.79 percent). In 2006 the Communist Party of Slovakia ran separately and got 89,418 votes or 3.88 percent, but did not win a single seat in the legislature, or National Council. This time the CP supported SMER.

The 62 seats the Social Democrats won (up from 50 seats in 2006) are far fewer what they needed to control the 150 seat legislature. On the other hand, established right wing parties such as the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union-Democratic Party lost votes and seats from 2006 to 2010.  Their dropped from 422,815 votes, or 18.35 percent of the vote and 31 seats, to an estimated 390,042 votes, or 15.42 percent of the vote and 28 seats.  Other right wing parties also lost votes and seats.

But the right still has more seats than do the Social Democrats. After the 2006 election, Prime Minister Fico cobbled together a Frankenstein monster of a left-right coalition with two other parties. The center-right People’s Party-Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, of former Prime MinisterVladimir Meciar, and the Slovak National Party whose leader, Jan Slota, has been accused of bigotry against the country’s large Magyar (ethnic Hungarian) and Roma (Gypsy) minorities. After the 2006 election, the first of these had 15 seats and the second had 20.

In the 2010 election, the Slovak National Party was left with only 9 seats, and the People’s Party with none. So, although Slovakia’s President Ivan Gasparovic has asked Fico to try to form a new coalition, it can’t be based on the same two partners. There is a Christian Democratic Party with 15 seats in the National Council, and also the Most-Hid party, purporting to represent the interests of the Hungarian minority, but these and other possible coalition partners are all right wing, and in the case of Most-Hid, it is incompatible as a coalition party with the Slovak National Party with its anti-Magyar rhetoric.

Some historical background

For hundreds of years, most of what is now Slovakia was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, with the landowning nobility being mostly Magyar while most of the peasants they exploited were Slovaks. When Slovakia was separated from Hungary at the end of the First World War and incorporated in Czechoslovakia, many ethnic Hungarians remained within it. After the collapse of socialism in Czechoslovakia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic went their separate ways, but Slovakia and Hungary still suffer tensions because of the minority Magyar issue.

Czech and Hungary

In the parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic, the Social Democrats won the largest number of votes, 1,155,267, or 22.8 percent of the vote. But this was a significant drop from the last election, and they lost 18 seats, leaving them with 56. The right wing Civic Democracy Party came in second with 1,057,792 votes or 20.22 of the total, but this was sharply down from 2006 and they lost 28 seats, being left with 53. Many of those votes may have gone to a brand new right-wing party, TOP 09, who got 873,833, or 16.70, or 41 seats. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, which ran its own candidates, got 589,765 votes, 11.27 percent, and held all 26 parliamentary seats it had going into the election. But it lost popular votes compared to 2006.

In Hungary, the two big shocks from its elections this Spring were the crushing defeat of the ruling Hungarian Socialist Party (social democrats) of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurscany, which voters evidently blamed for the current financial crisis and for a major scandal. The main victor was the right wing FIDESZ Party of Victor Orban.

But many observers were perturbed by the sharp advance in the first round of Jobbik, “Movement for a Better Hungary”, an extreme nationalist party that has sprung up overnight, increased its vote eight times over, since the last election. Jobbik is militantly anti-communist, and is credibly accused of promoting hatred of Jews and Roma. It is also “Carpathian-Irredentist,” which means it fights militantly for separatist rights for Magyars living outside Hungary.

These election results are worrisome, especially as they are matched by rightward movement in other parts of Europe. The second international, social democratic parties are blamed for drops in living standards on their watch, or are put in a position of administering cuts in social welfare demanded by international monopoly capital, the European Union and the IMF. The communist parties are fighting hard but they are suffering repression in several countries in Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic where efforts have been underway to legally eliminate the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, and in Poland where the ruling class is trying to make the use of communist symbols illegal.

Photo: Slovakia’s Prime Minister and Chairman of the Social Democratic party Smer Robert Fico looks on after a press conference acknowledging results of the general elections in Bratislava, Slovakia, June 13. (Petr David Josek/AP)


Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.