SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

13

THIS MONTH, Slovak politics seems to revolve around the number 13. First, Radoslav Procházka’s Sieť got 13 percent in the Focus opinion poll, turning the party into a leader of the right. Then only 13 percent of voters turned out to elect the country’s 13 MEPs. So what is the number trying to tell us? Tough to say.

THIS MONTH, Slovak politics seems to revolve around the number 13. First, Radoslav Procházka’s Sieť got 13 percent in the Focus opinion poll, turning the party into a leader of the right. Then only 13 percent of voters turned out to elect the country’s 13 MEPs. So what is the number trying to tell us? Tough to say.

One lesson is that you don’t need that much public support to be successful in politics. Maroš Šefčovič claimed he ran in the European Parliament elections to get a clear mandate for a further stint as euro-commissioner. He will return to Brussels with 66,000 preferential votes. That’s not much even in a country of just five million.

Procházka’s popularity is impressive given that he is just registering his party. But it tells you something when the support of just one in eight voters can make you the leader of the opposition.

Drawing any broad conclusions about the public’s stance towards the EU is difficult. If it had to be summed up in one word, it would be either ignorance or boredom. Slovaks remain strongly pro-European. But to many, it doesn’t really seem like electing 13 out of 751 members of an assembly with limited powers makes that much of a difference.

By coincidence, all seven opposition parties that had any chance of success received just enough votes to get their candidates into the EP. So while the EP elections had some potential to at least speed up the reshuffling within the opposition camp and convince some of the less-promising projects to close down, even this will not happen. Everyone now feels they have a place on the scene.

The good news is that regardless of the chaos on the right, Smer is visibly losing ground. They suffered two huge defeats in last year’s regional elections. Then came Fico’s humiliating loss to Andrej Kiska in the presidential vote, and now they again underperformed in the EP elections. Despite all the 13s, the country may yet have some good luck.

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