- Slovakia’s parliamentary election is set for June 12. Political parties must register slates of candidates with up to 150 nominees by March 14, along with a deposit of €16,596.
- Centre-right opposition parties failed to establish a broad coalition to face Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer party in the election. The Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the biggest opposition group, will run alone after the new Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party rejected its overtures. The Most-Híd party, established by former Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) leader Béla Bugár last year, will band together with the Civic Conservative Party (OKS). The Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) has not yet clearly rejected the prospect of post-election cooperation with Smer, the most dominant force in Slovak politics.
- SDKÚ leader and former Prime Minister Mikulás Dzurinda announced he was dropping out of the electoral race. A few days earlier, Fico had accused the SDKÚ of using Swiss bank accounts and shell companies based in tax-haven countries to launder money for its operations. Mr. Dzurinda denied the allegations, even though Mr. Fico did not accuse him directly. The SDKÚ will choose the person to head its list of candidates on February 27. Dzurinda will keep his post as party chairman.
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
Three central European neighbours are about to hold elections. In the Czech Republic, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will head the next government. In Hungary, only an imbecile would bet against the right-wing Fidesz party gaining an absolute majority (a two-thirds majority is not out of the question). Slovakia falls somewhere between these two extremes. Smer is basically assured of victory, but is unlikely to gain an absolute majority.
However, if only the four biggest parties pass the 5% threshold for parliamentary representation, it can happen. But balance of forces will change radically should smaller parties make it into Parliament. A new survey by Focus shows 4 small groups polling between 5 and 6.2%, meaning the number of parties that make it into parliament can be anywhere between four and eight. Moreover, 15.6% of people said they would not vote and 19.1% of respondents declined to declare a party preference. The large number of small parties that are polling around 5% combined with the high proportion of undecided voters makes it impossible to predict the election’s outcome.
Prime Minister Fico has successfully saddled his main rival in a corruption scandal ahead of the elections. This follows several scandals among governing parties, such as last autumn’s bulletin board tender, which Smer skilfully pinned on its nationalist coalition partner, the Slovak National Party (SNS). Once again, the timing of Mr. Fico’s strike was so impeccable and Mr Dzurinda’s reaction was so penitent that the SDKÚ has lost its image as a potential governing force.
The scandal has left the SDKÚ, the biggest opposition force, without a prime ministerial candidate just four months before the election. There are two potential candidates to head the list: Iveta Radičova, who lost the presidential election last year, and Ivan Mikloš, who served as finance minister in the Dzurinda administration. A few weeks ago, it appeared a broad opposition coalition might attract disaffected voters and provide a credible alternative to the current government. The opposition’s failure to unite, coupled with Mr Dzurinda’s decision to stand down, proved that Mr. Fico has no credible challenger. After the election, Mr. Fico will probably have a chance to hold a “tender” for spots in the governing coalition. KDH and Most-Híd are likely bidders among the current opposition parties.