• EP Elections Report
  • The Slovak Paradox

  • Peter Daubner | 03 Jun 19 | Posted under: Σλοβακία , Εκλογές , Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση
  • The elections to the European Parliament meant a debacle for the three political parties of the government coalition.

    The political situation in Slovakia before the European Parliament elections was influenced by two major events.

    The first event was the brutal murder of a young couple, investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, which took place in February 2018. The brutal double murder caused an "earthquake" on the political scene. This murder revealed various links between the Italian mafia 'Ndranghet' to the Government Office of the Slovak Republic, which resulted in massive anti-government protests that took place throughout the country, especially in Bratislava. It has been the biggest popular protest since 1989. As a result of the protests, the long-standing Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic and the chairman of the political party Smer-SD Robert Fico resigned from his post, and was subsequently replaced by the more popular and more compromising party vice-president Peter Pellegrini. With this change in the position of Prime Minister, the political scene has partly stabilized. However, for a part of the electorate, Smer-SD has become a non-electable party.

    The second event, which significantly determined the election result, was the presidential election that took place in March 2019. In the second round, the lawyer, civic activist and vice-president of the relatively newly created pro-European and liberal party Progressive Slovakia Zuzana Čaputová decisively won over the candidate of the governing Smer-SD party, the current Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič.

    In general, we can say that the Slovak political scene is extremely polarized. The government's political parties are significantly losing popularity before the 2020 parliamentary elections, partly due to corruption cases and antagonisms within the currently governing left-right coalition (1 centre-left party and 2 centre-right parties). Almost all political parties are now, to a varying extent, disassociating themselves from Smer-SD, which used to have an hegemonic position in the political system of the Slovak Republic in the recent past, and used to be a guarantee of political stability. Several of its prominent leaders have recently left this party, including former ministers and one Member of the European Parliament.

    The anti-systemic element on the Slovak political scene is the neo-fascist, anti-European party Kotleba – People's Party Our Slovakia. In general, frustration and "democracy fatigue" are common sentiments in Slovakia, despite high GDP growth, low inflation, historically the lowest unemployment rate (5 percent), the highest employment rate and relatively high wage increases, including the minimum wage. Especially new political entities, such as Progressive Slovakia and „Together“, are particularly profiting from this situation.

     

    Overview Of The Election Results

    In the 2014 EP elections, Slovakia recorded the lowest participation in the whole EU. Only 13.05% of eligible voters took part in the election, which means that only around 560,000 people took advantage of the elections to enter the EU decision-making process. In the EP elections in 2019 (Slovakia´s fourth one), Slovakia once again registered the lowest turnout in the EU. 22.74% of eligible voters took part in the election. 1,007,398 voters participated in the election.

    The Slovak Republic is a pro-European country, yet participation in elections and interest in European politics is low, which is referred to as the "Slovak paradox".

     

    Overall results: EP elections 2019

    Party

    Europarty

    Votes

    %

    +/–

    Seats

    +/–

    Coalition: Progressive Slovakia + Together

    ALDE / EPP

    198,255

    20.11

    New / New

    2 / 2

    New / New

    Direction – Social Democracy (SMER)

    PES

    154,996

    15.72

    −8.37

    3

    - 1

    People's Party – Our Slovakia (ĽSNS)

    APF

    118,995

    12.07

    +10.34

    2

    + 2

    Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)

    EPP

    95,588

    9.69

    -3.52

    2*

    0

    Freedom and Solidarity (SaS)

    AECR

    94,839

    9.62

    +2.96

    2

    + 1

    Ordinary People (OĽaNO)

    AECR

    51,834

    5.25

    -2.39

    1

    0

    Party of the Hungarian Community (SMK-MKP)

    EPP

    48,929

    4.96

    -1.57

    0

    1

    Slovak National Party (SNS)

    None

    40,330

    4.09

    +0.48

    0

    0

    Christian Union (KÚ)

    None

    37,974

    3.85

    New

    0

    New

    We Are Family

    EAPN

    31,840

    3.23

    New

    0

    New

    Most-Híd

    EPP

    25,562

    2.59

    -3.24

    0

    - 1

    * One seat will be taken after Brexit and departure of British MEPs

     

    European group

    Seats 2014

    Seats 2019

    Change

    European People's Party (EPP)

    6

    4

    - 2

    Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)

    4

    3

    - 1

    Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)

    1

    2

    + 1

    Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF)

    0

    2

    + 2

    European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR)

    1

    2

    + 1

    Non-Inscrits (NI)

    1

    0

    - 1

     

    13

    14

     

    Elected members

    Party

    Member

    Preferential votes

    Progressive Slovakia (PS)

    ALDE

    Michal Šimečka

    81,735

    Martin Hojsík

    27,549

    Together (Spolu)

    EPP

    Michal Wiezik

    29,998

    Vladimír Bilčík

    26,202

    Direction – Social Democracy (SMER)

    S&D (PES)

    Monika Beňová

    89,472

    Miroslav Číž

    51,362

    Robert Hajšel

    13,773

    People's Party – Our Slovakia (ĽSNS)

    APF

    Milan Uhrík

    42,779

    Miroslav Radačovský

    42,276

    Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)

    EPP

    Ivan Štefanec

    33,128

    Miriam Lexmann*

    27,833

    Freedom and Solidarity (SaS)

    AECR

    Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová

    52,331

    Eugen Jurzyca

    33,540

    Ordinary People (OĽaNO)

    AECR

    Peter Pollák

    23,815

    * One seat will be taken after Brexit and departure of British MEPs

    The results of the elections to the European Parliament generally means an election debacle for the three political parties of the government coalition: the center-left social-democratic Smer-SD, the nationalist right-wing Slovak National Party and the inter-ethnic center-right Most-Híd. Smer has lost its dominant position on the Slovak political scene. The winner of the EP election, surprisingly, is a coalition of two new political parties: the liberal, progressive, pro-European Progressive Slovakia and the liberal conservative center-right TOGETHER - Civic Democracy (Spolu – Občianska demokracia).

    The third place and 12.07 percent of votes went to the far-right populist neo-Nazi party Kotleba – People's Party Our Slovakia.

    For reasons hard to explain, besides Smer-SD and two virtually inconsequential parties, the Communist Party of Slovakia and the Resistance – Labour party(VZDOR – strana práce), every relevant political party in Slovakia categorizes itself as right-wing.

     

    Results of the left parties

    Three left-wing parties took part in the elections to the European Parliament in the Slovak Republic (from 31 political parties overall).

    Smer – Social Democracy (Smer-SD) is a social-democratic, culturally conservative, and left-wing populist government party. It gained 15.72 percent of the votes. The popularity of this party has been on a long-term decline. Its current chairman Robert Fico, according to polls, is one of the least popular and trustworthy politicians of the country. The party is not sufficiently attractive to young people. Given the multitude of internal feuds, its future is questionable.

    The Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS) is a far-left, Marxist–Leninist, populist, anti-European, and a very marginal party. KSS is considered to be an extremist and anti-democratic party without a shred of self-reflection, and with authoritarian elements. This party is de facto a „bunisness project“ of its leadership, especially its long-standing chairman Jozef Hrdlička. Before the recent presidential election (March 2019), the party´s vice-chair Jalal Suleiman publicly and overtly supported Štefan Harabin, the candidate of the authoritarian, populist and „mafia“ right-wing. KSS has almost identical views on many questions as the extremist right-wing in Slovakia. They stand in unison, for example, in the question of pulling out Slovakia from the EU and NATO. However, the winner of the fight for the anti-system (and anti-capitalist) voter is definitely Marian Kotleba and his neo-fascist party, partly due to the ineptitude of the representants of KSS. The party´s voters are almost exclusively pensioners who nostalgically reminisce on „real socialism“ and the regime before 1989.

    Resistance – Labour party (Vzdor – Strana práce) – a far-left, Marxist–Leninist, populist, anti-European and marginal „party of workers“. Vzdor, much like the KSS, is an extremist party without any electoral support. These two parties ran for the EP as a coalition and managed to gather 0.62% of votes. Both parties are virtually unelectable for educated leftist voters. The future of these parties is basically non-existent.

    Smer-SD, the governing left party, placed second with 15.72% of votes (a decline of 8.37%). The party lost one of its current mandates, ending up with three (Monika Beňová, a long-standing MEP and the leader of the roster; Miroslav Číž, a representative of the National Council of the Slovak Republic; and Robert Hajšel who ran as an independent candidate for Smer-SD). The result is considered a failure. The party was unelectable for a large portion of the left-leaning electorate because of the nominated candidates. The left-leaning voter had no motivation to go and vote in these elections. Even the fact of whether or not these candidates are actually left-wing politicians is questionable.

     

    Main-topics for the European election campaign

    The election campaign was dominated by topics like illegal migration (almost every political party in Slovakia can be characterized as anti-immigrant), the place of Slovakia in the European Union (euro-optimism vs. euro-skepticism, the question of being part of the „core of the EU“), the future and reform of the EU, the relationship between Slovakia (and the EU) and the Russian Federation (a controversial topic that polarizes the electorate in Slovakia) and the „dual quality of food“ in the EU. To a lesser extent, but still present, were topics like Brexit, EU enlargement, European minimum wage, European army etc.

     

    European election campaigns and results

    The coalition of Progressive Slovakia and Spolu (ALDE+EPP) had the most distinctive and massive campaign. All the others were shallow, boring and without any clear message or vision. This coalition was also the only unabashedly pro-European subject in the race. The rest of the parties have been critical to dismissive towards the EU. Most of the parties didn´t ascribe much importance to election campaigns; they are focused on the upcoming national elections.

     

    The Top Candidates

    In the conditions of the Slovak Republic, the top candidates played zero role in the particular election campaigns of political parties. During the election campaign, there was no connection between the candidate and the top candidate at European level. The faces of the electoral campaigns of particular political parties were their own national leaders. European top candidates have remained absolutely unfamiliar to voters in Slovakia.

     

    Further Detailled Information on the Electoral System

    The elections to the European Parliament and the procedures for their implementation are regulated by European legislation and by specific national provisions. National legislation regulates many other important issues, such as the exact electoral system or the number of constituencies.

    According to national laws, a  citizen of the Slovak Republic may run for Member of the European Parliament, if (1) at the latest on the election day, they have reached the age of 21, (2) they legally reside in the territory of the Slovak Republic, and (3) there are no obstacles in their capacity to exercise their right to vote. Citizens of other member states may also run for Members of the European Parliament in the Slovak Republic, provided (1) they have reached the age of 21 at the latest on the day of the election, (2) they have legal residence in the Slovak Republic, (3) their right to run for office has not been abated in their native member state, and (4) there are no obstacles in their capacity to exercise their right to vote. Citizens can only run for office in one Member State each election, provided they meet the above mentioned conditions.

    Every citizen of the Slovak Republic, who has reached the age of 18 at the latest on election day and has permanent residence, has the right to vote in the EP elections in the territory of the Slovak Republic. This also applies to citizens of other EU Member States who have reached the age of 18 at the latest on election day and have permanent residence in the Slovak Republic, as well as citizens of the Slovak Republic who, at the election day, have reached the age of 18 and are not permanently resident in the Slovak Republic, nor another EU Member State, if they reside in the Slovak Republic on election day. Citizens can only vote in one Member State each election, provided they meet the above mentioned conditions.

    Similarly, the exact dates for elections within a specified range are also determined on the national level. In Slovakia, the day of the election was announced by the Chairman of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, and set to 25 May 2019.

    Slovak citizens with permanent residence in the Slovak Republic, who are not in the Slovak Republic on election day, cannot vote in these elections from abroad.

     

    Electoral System in the Slovak Republic:

    •         form of proportional representation on the basis of the political parties´ rosters of candidates or preferential votes,

    •         one constituency,

    •         five percent quorum.

     

    Thirty-one parties featured on the electoral list.

     

    Electoral rules:

    · Obligatory vote

    no

    · Number of constituencies

    1

    · Preferential vote

    yes

    · Postal vote

    no

    · Advanced vote

    no

    · Threshold to get elected

    5 %

    · Day of EE19

    Saturday, 25 May

    · Opening time of polling stations

    07.00 CET

    · Closing time of polling stations

    22.00 CET

    · Exit polls

    N/A

    · Official announcement of first results

    26 May 23.00 CET

    · Provisional final results expected

    26 May 23.00 CET

     

     

    Candidates

    · Lists (total)

    31

    · Candidates (total)

    338 (349 on the list, 11 withdrawn)

    · Female candidates %

    24.26 % (overall)

    · Legal minimum age

    21


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