Slovak extremists out of the EP

IN LIGHT of the election results in the UK and France, but also in neighbouring Hungary, the absence of extremist candidates among Slovakia’s new MEPs appears to be a source of success for Slovak voters.

IN LIGHT of the election results in the UK and France, but also in neighbouring Hungary, the absence of extremist candidates among Slovakia’s new MEPs appears to be a source of success for Slovak voters.

The ultra-right parties and nationalists received about 8 percent of the vote in Slovakia, but no single party managed to climb over the 5-percent threshold to get a mandate in the EP. With this result, Slovakia stands out among many European countries: in neighbouring Hungary, Jobbik got more than 14 percent of the vote and three seats in the EP, while France, the UK and Denmark saw far right parties win at the polls, too. In Greece, a hard leftist party finished first.

Extremists and anti-European parties are estimated to have up to 150 out of the 751 seats in the EP: Marine Le Pen’s National Front and Nigel Farage’s UKIP will have 24 seats each, the Danish Volkeparti and the Austrian Free Party will each have four seats. The far left Syriza party in Greece took six seats.

In Slovakia the once-ruling nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS), which in the past election term held one MEP chair (Jaroslav Paška), won the highest number of votes among the nationalists running in the elections, but the 3.61 percent of the vote comes as a disappointment to the party.

Outgoing MEP Paška says the problem is that the electorate of the SNS is divided among three political parties, the Sme daily reported.

The newly-emerged Christian Slovak National Party, for which the former long-term leader of the SNS, Ján Slota ran, appealed to just 0.64 percent of the voters.

The ultra rightist People’s Party – Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) of Marian Kotleba was also unsuccessful in the vote. The Banská Bystrica Governor Kotleba was not interested in a position in Brussels and without him his party gained a mere 1.73 percent.

Surprise for analysts

“It is a little bit of a mystery to me why Kotleba and company were not able to mobilise their voters and, with such a low election turnout, did not make it into the EP,” said Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) President Grigorij Mesežnikov.

Perhaps the issues these parties work with do not really relate to the EP, Mesežnikov suggests.

“The party of Kotleba is a single-agenda party, which is the Roma issue, in the same way that the party of Ján Slota, which was focused on Hungarians, was a one-issue-party as well,” Mesežnikov told The Slovak Spectator. “Even if they spoke against the EU, they were not able to mobilise their voters.”

Extremist parties have compromised themselves in the past and even ĽSNS, which seems to be on the rise at the moment, are not focusing on the European agenda, analyst Juraj Marušiak of the Slovak Academy of Sciences told The Slovak Spectator.

“It is also due to the fact that there is still an absence of Europhobic or Euro-refusal subjects in Slovakia,” Marušiak said.

“Besides, extremist and nationalist parties usually present criticism of the EU,” Marušiak noted. “In Slovakia, several groups that can hardly be labelled extremist presented moderate criticism of the EU.”

Analysts agree that the candidate list of ĽSNS, which has become emblematic of extremist parties in Slovakia especially after its representative was elected as regional governor last year, failed to field attractive candidates.

“ĽSNS put in the brother of the regional governor, whose name should have brought some effect, but it turned out to be insufficient by far,” political analyst Miroslav Kusý told The Slovak Spectator, adding that other nationalist parties also lacked notable personalities that could attract voters.

Beata Balogová, RadkaMinarechová and Zuzana Vilikovská contributed to this report

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