Karmic Elections in Slovakia

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The election night is always magical. It is a beautiful moment when we may spot all shades of human emotions, starting with joy and celebration, ending with consternation, sadness or even total disillusionment. Saturday’s elections in Slovakia were quite special in this respect. My jaw dropped not only at the sight of some of the results, but basically at all numbers that appeared on the TV screen. Whether I was satisfied with the particular result more or less, they have all made me smile and shake my head for a moment. I simply had an indescribable feeling that these elections, like any others before, were ruled by karma – giving many parties what they really deserved.

The governing party SMER-SD, which had been continuously referring to the opposition parties as a mash-up, will have to try to create an alliance with at least three (if not four) parties it does not agree with politically. The leader of the Slovak right wing and his party Sieť (Network), in spite of its immoderate ambitions, suffered a crushing defeat from which it may not recover. The only leader who was to pull the party “up” became its heaviest anchor. And what can be done if there is no other leader in the party?

The Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) dropped out of the parliament – a humiliating moment for the party which for years had been quietly profiting mainly from its brand name. The moment the party faced a real competition, it dropped out with the slightest proportion of support possible (by 0.06 percent). This result, however, was short of the destiny of Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (SDKU-DS), which (thanks to its proud chairman) managed to get the party to the ridiculous level of 0.3 percent of votes.

Considering the parties that initially had a reason for celebrating, a slap in the faces of the others becomes even more painful. The voters reposed their trust to the parties like Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and Ordinary people (Oľano). These groups had been continuously criticized for the fall of Iveta Radičová’s government. They were also despised by SDKU-DS, KDH, SMER-SD, Sieť and also Most-Híd (the Bridge) the most. Moreover, they were also disposed to become the coalition partners. The representatives of these parties themselves took in the results of the Saturday’s elections with at least a small amount of humility. However, analysts and commentators did not manage it. They rather keep competing on who would shame the new leaders of the right wing the most, blaming them even for the shocking success of Marián Kotleba’s party. The party benefiting mainly from the failures of traditional parties and their incapability to come up with anything that would satisfy various groups of frustrated voters. If there was something causing the euro-skepticism of SaS and Oľano, it was providing an alternative jeopardizing old parties and necessarily becoming the target of criticism. However, the criticism outgrew to hysteria, completely ignoring the rise of a hundred times more dangerous element in the purest form of extremism and xenophobia.

If the fear of economic liberalism combined with populist rhetoric is really bigger than the fear of brown boots in our parliament, this karmic lesson was not the last one. Until the contempt and mockery is the only thing we, as commentators, can come up with, we can expect to be the ones being laughed at in the end. Considering the number of us being so far away from reality in spite of the election results, it will not be so easy for us to overcome more lessons like this. As our Czech brothers say – Karma is for free, my friends.

Martin Reguli
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