Elections in Slovakia: another swing to the right?
Slovakians will elect a new parliament tomorrow. The governing party Smer has seen its popularity plunge in the aftermath of the scandal over the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak. The ones to benefit from this are the far right and right-wing populists, including the conservative protest party Oľano ("Ordinary People"), which is now in the lead according to the most recent polls. Europe's press examines the consequences of the anticipated outcome.
Protest vote can backfire
In a guest commentary in Sme, Prague-based author Luboš Palata hopes the Slovaks won't repeat the Czechs' mistakes in Saturday's elections:
“Seven years ago we Czechs wanted to get rid of the corrupt 'traditional' parties. With Andrej Babiš we elected a billionaire with an incredible conflict of interests, a man who does not understand democracy - indeed, who hates it. He manages and finances his party as if it were one of his companies. The party members are at best his employees. Babiš seemed to be the solution to our Czech crisis - but we went out of the frying pan into the fire. ... Of course Slovakia needs fundamental changes. But a change alone doesn't lead to improvement.”
Decency and participation are key now
If the liberal opposition parties are able to secure a joint majority their government programme could be a very simple one, remarks Sme:
“This is not about an extremely complex undertaking or squaring the circle. It's about a programme of complete renewal after the Fico era, a guarantee of democratic development, the rule of law for all, freedom, decency and solidarity. It's about the protection of minorities and the separation of powers. It's about a state that is not there to serve the oligarchs and their connections with the former ruling party Smer, but for the citizens. Only a cabinet like this can bring about a decisive turnaround. This is no trivial undertaking in view of the current disaster. If you look at Fico and his consorts or our neighbours Orbán, Kaczyński and Babiš, it would be an amazing success for Slovakia.”
Far right may be Smer's only chance
A collaboration between social democrats and right-wing extremists can no longer be ruled out after Sunday's elections, journalist Yuri Panchenko fears in Ukrayinska Pravda:
“MPs of the far-right L'SNS wanted to vote for [socio-political] changes together with the governing Smer party. ... And Marian Kotleba, leader of the L'SNS, can certainly be called a fascist. ... In the current constellation the formation of a coalition with far-right parties could be the only chance for the Smer party to remain in power. ... A coalition with Kotleba's party would be a real disaster. This party operates with openly xenophobic slogans.”
Threat of crack in Visegrád alliance
The election poses a threat to the unity of the four Visegrád states, warns wPolityce.pl:
“From the Polish perspective, the election result of our southern neighbour is particularly important for one reason. Some political commentators, especially in the West, consider Slovakia to be the weakest member of the Visegrád group. Some parties there are keeping their distance from the V4, and especially from the current governments in Warsaw and Budapest. The election result puts the existing cohesion of our Central European alliance at risk. Hopefully it won't come to a split. The example of Croatia, which ceased to be the locomotive of the Three Seas Initiative after the last presidential elections, should be a warning to us.”