Marian Kotleba refers to Roma as “gypsy parasites”, reveres a Nazi war criminal as a “national hero” and has advocated a state where minorities are stripped of their rights. And as of this weekend, he leads Slovakia’s fifth-most popular political party. In one of the biggest surprises of Saturday’s election, more than 200,000 Slovakians cast ballots for the neo-Nazi People’s Party Our Slovakia (L’SNS) — including 23 per cent of first-time voters. “The people have decided, and I think that this is the beginning of a new era in Slovakia. I hope that we will succeed in rescuing Slovakia from where it is heading,” Mr Kotleba said on Sunday. “The government keeps favouring foreign policies over the interests of Slovak citizens.” Stocky and skin-headed — and with a penchant for dressing up in uniforms modelled on Slovakia’s wartime Nazi-supporting militia — Mr Kotleba borrows rhetoric and symbols from the country’s fascist past, has flirted with holocaust denial and called for Muslims to be banned from the country.
Articles about voting issues in the Slovak Republic.
The leftist ruling party has won the parliamentary election in Slovakia, after campaigning on an anti-migrant ticket, but will need coalition partners to form a majority government, according to results announced on Sunday. In a surprising development, a neo-Nazi party gained parliamentary seats for the first time. With the votes from 99.9 percent of the almost 6,000 polling stations counted by the Statistics Office Sunday, the Smer-Social Democracy party of Prime Minister Robert Fico is the winner with 28.3 percent of the vote, or 49 seats in the 150-seat Parliament. That represents a significant drop in support from the 2012 election when Smer took 44.4 percent and was able to govern alone. Fico acknowledged he had hoped for at least 4-5 percent more but still called it “a decent result.”
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is on course to win another term in parliamentary elections on Saturday, maintaining an anti-immigration alliance with his European Union neighbors, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Fico, 51, is a Social Democrat but fits in with his two conservative peers when it comes to a focus on national pride, social conservatism and strong opposition to immigration. Opinion polls show Fico’s Smer party will win 32.5-38.4 percent of the vote, enough to retain power with a coalition partner or two. Many in Brussels are watching the election and Fico’s views on migration because Slovakia will hold the rotating six-month EU presidency from July, giving it a bigger voice in EU discussions.
A referendum to prevent granting new rights to gays in Slovakia, an ex-Communist state in the European Union’s east, failed Saturday due to a low turnout as opponents of the popular vote urged people to stay at home. Only 21.4% of 4.41 million eligible voters cast their ballots, below the required 50% quorum in this predominantly Roman Catholic country of five million people to make the national-vote results legally binding, final results released Sunday by the Slovak electoral commission showed. They confirmed preliminary results published late Saturday. The final tally also showed that between 90.3% and 94.5% of 944,209 Slovaks voting in the referendum agreed to all three questions it asked: whether marriage can only be a union of a man and a woman; whether to ban same-sex couples from adopting children; and whether parents can let their children skip school classes involving education on sex and euthanasia. The Slovak antigay vote followed a similar referendum that succeeded in Croatia, also a Roman Catholic EU member, in 2013. The different results reflect cultural differences within Europe on gay rights. Some people in mostly ex-Communist eastern EU states, including also Hungary and Poland, are against what they view as excessively liberal policies such as legalizing various forms of same-sex unions and children adoptions by gay couples possible elsewhere in the 28-nation bloc, including Austria and the Czech Republic.
Almost 1 million people cast their ballot in the February 7 referendum which, as its initiators say, sought the protection of family. The turnout, however, failed to surpass the required 50-percent quorum as only 21.41 percent of eligible voters went to the polling stations. It was the third lowest of the eight referendums already held in Slovakia and surprised analysts as pre-referendum polls suggested that about 35 percent would attend the voting. Despite the failed vote, both the referendum’s organisers and representatives of the LGBTI community consider the results a success and claim they want to continue with the discussion it has opened. “For me, as a sociologist, the turnout is really surprisingly low,” Martin Slosiarik of the Focus polling agency told the public-service Slovak Radio (SRo), adding that a pre-referendum poll Focus conducted for the Sme daily suggested the most pessimistic variant for turnout at about 30 percent. Of more than 4.4 million eligible voters, only 944,674 people came to cast their ballot. The highest turnout was in Prešov Region (32.31 percent), while the lowest was in Banská Bystrica Region (15.84 percent).
Social conservatives in Slovakia aim to block gay couples from gaining more rights in a referendum on Saturday that pits the country’s mainly liberal city dwellers against those in the more traditional countryside. The campaign is part of a conservative pushback in eastern Europe against what they see as overly liberal policies spreading eastwards in the two decades since the European Union expanded to include former Communist states. More than 400,000 Slovaks, nearly 10 percent of the central European country’s electorate, have signed a petition demanding a national vote. It is a rare show of political engagement in a country where people often shun public affairs – a mere 13 percent voted in the European Parliament election last year.
A long-awaited law unifying the rules for all elections held in Slovakia finally sailed through parliament in late May. Before the law was passed, the government allowed the public a period of time to discuss the new rules and to reach a consensus across the political spectrum. Despite this, opposition parties and political transparency watchdogs have serious concerns about some of the rules. On May 29, parliament passed new election rules which are to become effective only in 2015, meaning that, stricter control over campaign financing and limits on campaign spending will not be applied in the municipal elections taking place this autumn. The new election law is replacing six laws that set out the rules for different kinds of elections in Slovakia, with the declared aim of unifying the rules for elections, and to make the running and financing of political campaigns more transparent.
Opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) MPs Lucia Nicholsonová and Martin Poliačik want to amend the new election code to allow Slovaks living abroad to vote in parliamentary, presidential and European Parliament elections. They also suggest introducing the requirement to inform electoral commissions in advance when an illiterate person wants to cast a ballot with an assistant, the TASR newswire reported on April 7. Both Nicholsonová and Poliačik attended the elections in Jarovnice, Prešov Region, which is the village with the largest Roma settlement in Slovakia, where they sat in the electoral commission.
Philanthropist and former businessman Andrej Kiska took a wide lead over Prime Minister Robert Fico in Slovakia’s presidential election, partial results of the second election round showed on Saturday. Data from 45 percent of voting districts showed the politically unaffiliated Kiska leading over the center-left prime minister by 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent of the vote. Kiska, 51, has been riding the wave of anti-Fico sentiment among right-wing voters as well as distrust in mainstream political parties because of graft scandals and persistently high unemployment. The partial results seemed to reflect fear among Slovaks that the 49-year-old would amass too much power, which some see as unhealthy for democratic checks and balances.
The current presidential election will not be the last in which Slovaks living abroad are not able to exercise their right to vote. While allowing people to vote via online could remedy the problem, Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák shot down that option on March 23, citing high costs and security risks. Lawmakers are set to discuss a new election law at the next parliamentary session, but electronic voting is not part of the bill “There are a number of risks and drawbacks,” the TASR newswire quoted Kaliňák as saying. “Even states far more advanced [than Slovakia] such as Germany or Belgium, even our neighbours in Austria, aren’t entertaining the idea of e-voting for the time being.”