European elections 2014: Slovakia – apathy wins?

Written by on May 15, 2014 in Europe - Comments Off on European elections 2014: Slovakia – apathy wins?

In the 2009 European Parliament elections, Slovakia – then in its fifth year as an EU member – set a record for low turnout in an election of members of the bloc’s legislature. The question is whether it will repeat the feat on May 24 2014.

Slovakia will be electing 13 MEPs from among the candidates put forward by a record number of 29 political parties that have entered the lists in the 2014 European Parliament elections.

Notwithstanding the number of contestants, canvassing has been low-key and going by local media reports, there has been scant interest in the choice facing the country regarding its MEPs.

In 2009, the ruling Direction – Social Democracy (SMER) won five seats, a feat that it is expected to repeat, going by public opinion polls in early May.

The changes that are possible involve the parties that will be the runners-up to SMER, a socialist party standing on a pro-EU platform in a country still largely favourably disposed towards the bloc in spite of the ructions in 2011 which resulted in an early general election after centre-right parties in the governing coalition opposed Bratislava assisting in the bailout of Greece.

Parties and politicians to watch in the Slovakian European Parliament elections are Radoslav Procházka’s new party, the Network, said by a Polis poll in early May to be sent to run second with 11.4 per cent, well behind the 38.3 per cent projected for SMER.

Procházka broke with the Christian Democratic Party in 2013. He ran third in Slovakia’s presidential elections in 2014, the same election that saw SMER’s candidate, prime minister Robert Fico, lose to Andrej Kiska.

It is an open question whether any European Parliament seats will be won by the far-right and eurosceptic Slovak National Party (SNS) and People’s Party – Our Slovakia (LSNS). The May 6 Polis poll suggested that both would remain beneath the threshold for seats.

Eyebrows were raised in November 2013 when Marian Kotleba of LSNS won a second-round victory in local elections in Bystrica, which raised questions where ultra-nationalism in Slovakia was on the rise, as in other European countries, or whether this simply was the result of right-wing voters uniting against the SMER candidate.

But if the polls are correct, the far-right phenomenon may not be repeated on May 24, and the line-up of Slovakia’s MEPs would remain much the same – a SMER majority and the rest of the seats shared out among a range of centre-right parties.

(Photo of Bratislava: Kiban)

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