Fico loses absolute majority in Slovakia

Prime Minister Robert Fico's social democratic party Smer lost its absolute majority in Saturday's elections. Meanwhile the right-wing extremist party LS-Nase Slovensko gained seats in parliament for the first time. Commentators voice concern about the Slovakians' shift to the right.

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Pravda (SK) /

New government better than new elections

Slovakia's social democratic prime minister Robert Fico on Tuesday reached an agreement with the three centre-right parties on the formation of a government. The left-wing daily Pravda welcomes this:

“In a survey conducted between 10 and 14 March, a majority of respondents expected early elections, although only 12 percent saw this as a good solution, since renewed elections would tend to help right-wing extremists most of all. ... The first step now is to show that the agreement also has practical consequences. A general sense of injustice prevails, and there are also social problems. And it’s no longer just the fascist sympathisers who are talking about corruption. ... If the parties were to fail now, things would look bad for them in the long run. And for us it would be a political earthquake. In this respect this government is our last chance. ”

Új Szó (Slowakei) (SK) /

Political elite has failed

The triumphal advance of the extreme right LS-Nase Slovensko party is a result of the political elite's failure to deal with Slovakia's problems, the Hungarian-language daily Új Szó comments:

“Party leader Marian Kotleba has catapulted himself into the collective consciousness with catchphrases like 'parasite gypsies', 'Zionist lobby' and 'Hungarian chauvinists'. And with its anti-migrant and anti-EU propaganda Prime Minister Robert Fico's ruling party Smer has paved the way for the worrying success of the far-right party. Another reason for its growing support is the voters' disappointment with the established parties. In the last 25 years they have neither improved the healthcare or education sectors, nor have they solved the rampant corruption or the Roma issue. More and more voters yearn for a political leader who offers quick and radical solutions.”

Pravda (SK) /

New elections a distinct possibility

Slovakia's President Andrej Kiska plans to task the nominal winner of the parliamentary election, Prime Minister Robert Fico, with forming a government today, Tuesday. Because the parties have shown little willingness to form a coalition his chances of success are not great, writes the left-wing daily Pravda:

“We can probably expect new elections. The only question seems to be whether they will come when the protagonists admit that the situation is hopeless or after several attempts to form a government that won't last anyway. … It's understandable that they want to talk and try other options first. … Only if the conviction prevails among the Democrats that higher interests are at stake now will the result be a government with a minimalist programme. That government could remain in office as long as we hold the EU Council presidency and as long as new elections don't lead to a repeat of the March debacle or something even worse.”

Delo (SI) /

Prime Minister indirectly gives far right a boost

With his xenophobic rhetoric Prime Minister Fico has made the radical right strong, writes the centre-left daily Delo:

“The voters have realised that the leading Social Democrat has forgotten society's problems. We're talking about problems that wouldn't exist if he pursued a social democratic agenda. This is why the ruling Social Democratic Party has lost so many votes. And instead of the moderate right it's the far right that has gained seats into parliament - a party that doesn't even try to conceal its Nazi roots and neo-Nazi views. … One lesson to be learned from these events could be: when the left toys with right-wing views, the far right wins.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Hungarian minorities everywhere in crisis

The party representing the Hungarian minority, SMK, didn't secure any parliamentary seats in Slovakia's general election, and the Slovakian-Hungarian party Híd won just 6.5 percent of the vote. The political representatives of the Hungarian minorities in Central Eastern Europe are generally faring poorly at the moment, which is also due to Hungary's influence over their parties, the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet comments:

“The political representatives of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia are in a deep crisis. Those who attribute this to the Slovakians' meanness are making a big mistake. That things have gone so far is also the fault of the political leaders in Hungary, who think they know how a Hungarian minority that was socialised in a completely different environment ticks. There is no standard formula for all the Hungarian minorities in Hungary's neighbouring countries. And above all there are no common slogans that achieve the same impact in the individual states.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Slovakians see their culture in danger

Prime Minister Robert Fico's strategy of scoring points with a xenophobic election campaign has backfired, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk believes:

“Many voters have grasped better than the government that the families from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan do not pose a major threat to the country's new-found prosperity. The widespread corruption and inequitable distribution of resources pose a far greater threat. ... Above all the people in the poorer eastern part of the country feel increasingly left out of the growing prosperity in the boom region around Bratislava. They don't see borderless Europe as a promise but as a threat to their lifestyle in a homogeneous society. What's more, the German welcome culture and the Western European multicultural societies are putting a huge strain not only on the Slovakians but also on most Central and Eastern Europeans.”

Sme (SK) /

Far-right virus must not be allowed to spread

The right-wing extremist party LS-Nase Slovensko holds 14 seats in the Slovakian parliament. Commenting in the liberal daily Sme, Political scientist Grigorij Mesežnikov warns that this is a dangerous scenario because the country hasn't developed any protection again far-right parties:

“There are not many countries in Europe in which parties like this have pushed their way into the political mainstream. LS-Nase Slovensko is more than just a radical nationalist and Europhobic party like the Front National. In the past the big EU countries have managed to push such parties to the fringes of society. In addition the forces that abide by the current system have developed a mechanism that made it impossible for extremists to threaten the democratic order. Germany is a good example of this. But in Slovakia such mechanisms have not yet been developed. ”

Dennik N (SK) /

Unimaginative fight for voters

The liberal daily Dennik N is disappointed by the way the parties are wooing voters:

“The ruling party Smer set the tone with a phantom topic - the refugees that don't exist in this country. … The debate, with its talk of 'terrorists' and 'Brussels' dictatorship', will perhaps stop after the elections. By then the new cabinet will need to focus on our EU Council presidency and won't need to mobilise voters any more, so it will presumably adopt a more rational language. But much damage has already been done. … It has been a strange election campaign, lacking any energy. The ruling party has once again failed to deliver any concepts for what the country should look like in the coming four years. And the opposition only reacted to the government and was unable to mobilise the public as it did in 1998 or 2010, putting all its energy into attacking each other instead. So it will be no wonder if the government is re-elected.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Time for change in Bratislava

It would be good for the country if the Fico government is voted out of office, writes the liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny:

“Over the last four years Fico has governed alone. His Smer party scored a record 44 percent in the election. Such a concentration of power is unprecedented in post-communist Slovakia. For this reason too, the election is a referendum on Fico. And this is why Fico is doing all he can to win. … But recent polls show that his popularity is waning. Perhaps despite the refugee issue he won't be able to govern without partners. … During the last decade Fico has dominated Slovakia's image. This is tiring. If the country wants to preserve the little mental health it retains it should be able to change its government - guided by a sense of self-preservation if nothing else.”