With the emergence of new parties in Slovakia, the political fragmentation in the country becomes more acute. Fourteen new political entities want to run, and some of them are led by conspiracy theorists or convicted swindlers. The month of March was very turbulent. After the resignation of interim Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský, both Robert Fico (Smer-SD) and Peter Pellegrini (Hlas-SD) insisted that President Zuzana Čaputová should appoint a caretaker government until the elections in September. Interim PM Eduard Heger left OĽaNO and set up a new political party, Demokrati (the “Democrats”). “We offer a guarantee of the protection of human rights and respect for individual freedom, expertise and reject of populism,” Heger affirmed in a press conference. The Democrats’ electoral program stands on five pillars: health care and green issues; education, science, and culture; a secure Slovakia; growing cooperation with civil society; and care for the most vulnerable.
Demokrati also aim at uniting center-right political parties. So far, it includes Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad’, the Environment Minister Ján Budaj, and the Foreign Affairs Minister Rastislav Káčer among the others. While the party will hold talks with other political parties, Heger ruled out cooperation with Smer-SD, Voice-SD, People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS), Republika, and the Slovak National Party (SNS). Demokrati are not OĽaNO version 2.0 and do not hold any plans to merge with Igor Matovič’s party before or after the election, the PM assured. Concerning the new parties in Slovakia, a second party was born this month: MEP Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová founded Jablko (“Apple”), a centrist party with a strong social agenda. “Apple has a clear vision – the return of morals and reason, compliance with agreements, regulations, and the interest of the country,” Nicholsonová stated.
She already held talks on cooperation with Heger, and rejected cooperation with Smer, Republika, ĽSNS, and OĽaNO. Later this month, the ethnic-Hungarian party Alliance decided to rename itself “the Alliance-Hungarian Forum”. According to the latest Ipsos poll, if elections were held in late March, Smer-SD would win with 19.5 percent (it was 16.2 in early March). Fico announced that he will run the campaign on three main slogans: stability, experience, and an end to the chaos. Despite no evidence of this, following Trumpian rhetoric, both Smer-SD and Republika claim that the September elections will be rigged. This is likely to become one of the strong topics before (and after) the elections. The next most successful parties would be Hlas (16 percent) and Progresivne Slovensko (11). At the moment, neither Demokrati nor OĽaNO would win any seats.
Perhaps this might explain why Matovič proposed to pay every voter 500 Euros to motivate higher turnout. This is a typical Matovič style populist proposal, which Parliament rejected on March 29th. However, the former PM submitted the proposal again and said he has a “plan B”. That is, to make the acceptance and support of the 500 Euros proposal a condition for any future joint coalition. On the other hand, Pellegrini proposed the same amount of money to be given rather to low-income earners. Old and new parties in Slovakia try to lure the electorate with miraculous, out-of-budget promises. “I believe in the mobilization of the democratic spectrum and the possibility of creating a government that will keep Slovakia on the map of Western civilization,” President Čaputová said during a joint press conference with the newly elected Czech President Petr Pavel in Bratislava.
(Published on amedeogasparini.com)