AS POLITICAL parties finalized their lists of candidates ahead of the June 17 national elections, The Slovak Spectator spoke to Grigorij Mesežnikov, the head of the Institute for Public Affairs think tank, about the composition of the lists and the implications of the nominations.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Were you surprised by the composition of the candidates lists of Slovakia's major political parties?
Grigorij Mesežnikov (GM): The composition of the candidates lists was not surprising because the personnel reservoir of the individual parties is relatively well known, and one could have expected that the parties would nominate candidates on the basis of three principles - rewarding loyalty and reliability, avoiding people who have controversial images or evoke negative feelings [among voters], and fielding a few popular personalities to attract undecided voters.
From this point of view, the choices of the [ruling] Slovak Democratic and Christian Union [SDKÚ] and the [opposition] Movement for a Democratic Slovakia seem logical. These parties did not include some potential candidates [former Labour Minister Ľudovít Kaník, who resigned over conflict of interest suspicions, or MP Ján Cuper, who had an accident while driving drunk at the end of last year - ed. note] who might have sidetracked some voters.
Some parties were strict and even rigid in putting their candidates lists together, in line with their practices to date, such as the Christian Democratic Movement and to a certain extent also the Hungarian Coalition Party. Other parties improvised to a great extent, such as the Free Forum [which included a popular actor in its second position - ed. note] and the Nádej party [which listed its recent founders in virtually unelectable positions]. Overall, however, political parties came up with nothing new in their candidates lists, except perhaps for the SDKÚ, which opened up to women and non-party members to a greater extent than other major parties.
TSS: Some political parties included people famous for other things than politics in relatively high places on their candidates lists, such as international football referee Ľuboš Micheľ of the SDKÚ or national football team coach Dušan Galis of Smer. Does nominating such people really sway voters to support them?
GM: This is a pre-election gambit to increase a party's election results. As a rule it is not discussed what the given person will actually do if he or she is elected. This strategy may appeal to a certain group of voters, but it will not have a major impact on the election results, because it is not celebrities that win elections, but parties as such, including their leaders, structures, programs, and track records.
TSS: Is it important for political parties to nominate more women to their candidates lists?
GM: It's high time. Women in Slovakia are insufficiently represented in politics, which undermines basic democratic principles. I don't support introducing a gender quota in politics, but parties themselves should create more room for women to participate, including competing in elections and gaining executive posts.