“THE MAN who robbed the right of its bastion.” “Expert says right has not lost its Bratislava bastion.” “He, who conquered the right’s bastion.” Judging by the headlines, one would think Slovakia has just gone through a weekend of medieval warfare, not municipal elections. Luckily, the event was not that dramatic. And the debate about who lost which bastion (bašta), is not so straightforward.
In fact, when you try to put together any type of election statistic, you encounter some questions which, while very simple, have no easy answers:
How to count independent candidates? A third of the newly-elected mayors ran as independents. And the easy way of dealing with them would be to count them all as such. But then the theory about the left winning Bratislava collapses – Milan Ftáčnik, the bastion’s conqueror, was officially an independent candidate, albeit endorsed by Smer. The situation is even more complicated in Trenčín, whose new boss Richard Rybníček is not only formally in a similar situation to Ftáčnik, but, unlike the former leftist education minister, is known for his right-wing views, and has close ties to the Christian Democrats. It’s almost impossible to categorise just these two. Not to mention the hundreds of others, whose backgrounds can never be fully explored.
Are wild coalitions part of the right, the left, or neither? On the local level, parties are free to form any alliance they like. And they certainly take advantage of this – nearly 90 different combinations of parties ran for town and city councils. Some coalitions are really colourful, like the mix of the conservative Christian Democratic Movement, the mostly liberal SDKÚ, the socialist Smer, the authoritarian HZDS, and the Green Party, which won 15 seats (the statistics don’t say where). One mayor even ran with the support of both the nationalist SNS and the mostly Hungarian Most-Híd. Now analyse that!
What’s going to happen to the various coalitions now that the voting is over? In many cases, the parties only signed up to an election coalition, meaning that they are not obliged to actually stick together in the councils, where they can form different unions altogether. And no-one keeps track of all the new coalitions that form in the local councils.
Drawing any definite conclusions from the local election results is tricky. But one thing is certain – Slovakia is a bašta of fun politics.
6. Dec 2010 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila