Slovakia’s fragmented post-election scene raises concerns in Prague

Polling place in Trnava, photo: ČTK

The outcome of Slovakia’s general elections over the weekend, which left the established parties badly weakened and opened the door to several newcomers including a far-right party, has evoked concern in the Czech Republic. Politicians in Prague point out that the fragmented post-election scene will make it hard, if not impossible, to form a stable government.

Robert Fico,  photo: ČTK
The outcome of Slovakia’s general elections is being described as a political earthquake that has left many fearing for the country’s future development. The ruling leftist Smer party of Prime Minister Robert Fico, which won the elections, lost a third of its supporters and its majority in Parliament. The Christian Democrats, the oldest party on the scene which had never been missing from top-level politics, failed to win any seats at all. Instead voters opened the door to four newcomers, including The People’s Party –Our Slovakia group led by Marian Kotleba, known for his vehement anti-Roma and anti-migration rhetoric. Kotleba, who in the past organized anti-Roma rallies and wore a Nazi-style uniform, now rejects any links with the Nazi ideology, focusing on criticism of the European Union and NATO.

Marian Kotleba,  photo: ČTK
The post-election situation is perceived as unreadable and unstable, a fact that is raising widespread concern also in view of the fact that Slovakia is due to take over the rotating EU presidency in July of this year. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek stressed the importance of Slovakia forming a stable administration.

“In 2016 Europe faces major challenges and we need to be able to reach agreement on key issues, both within the Visegrad Four and within Europe. For that one needs stable governments and forming a stable government in Slovakia under the present circumstances will not be easy.”

The head of the Czech Christian Democrats, Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek voiced the widespread concern of politicians in Prague over the unexpected gains of Kotleba’s far right grouping.

“This marks a rise of nationalist and I would even say semi-fascist parties which is not good news.”

Polling place in Trnava,  photo: ČTK
It will be the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who as the winner of the elections, will get the first chance to form a government. If he fails, a group of center-right parties could try to form a broad, but very likely unstable, anti-Fico coalition.

Czech politicians have wished Slovakia success is forming a stable administration, but skepticism abounds and there are fears that the outcome of the Slovak elections could seriously complicate future negotiations both within Visegrad, which the Czech Republic currently presides over, and within the EU. Analysts say Slovakia’s far-right groups capitalized on the anti-immigration rhetoric of the mainstream parties, particularly that of Prime Minister Robert Fico – and that is seen as a warning to politicians in the Czech Republic where some of the established parties have recently indulged in similar practices.