2010 has been a turbulent year for all the countries of the Visegrad Group. Hard-fought battles, often marked by nationalist sentiment and efforts to blame the impact of the economic crisis on opposing parties, preceded the parliamentary elections in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Poland, where elections are expected to take place in 2011, faced its own trial: the country lived through the tragic death of its president in the spring and then the presidential race which ensued.
Observers agree that the general elections, which saw a change of government in all three countries that held them, have been the focus of attention this year, representing as they did a fairly big regional shift.
“We are witnessing in central Europe, and especially in the Visegrad region, a unique situation when more or less all the Visegrad countries have given power to ruling coalitions with the same orientation,” Tomáš Strážay, an expert on the Visegrad Group who works as an analyst at the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (SFPA) think tank, told The Slovak Spectator.
As Kevin Deegan-Krause, a political analyst from Wayne State University in the United States, points out, the rise of newcomers was also important in every major election in the region: Jobbik and Politics Can Be Different in Hungary, Public Affairs (VV) and TOP09 in the Czech Republic, and Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and Most-Híd in Slovakia.
“These [parties] did not fundamentally reshape politics in those countries but they did change the balance of power,” Deegan-Krause told The Slovak Spectator. “They are also likely to be shorter-lived than their predecessors and therefore more likely to continue or even intensify a cycle of new-party rise and fall.”
The piece is part of the Visegrad Countries - Facing New Challenges, prepared by The Slovak Spectator with the support of the International Visegrad Fund. For more information on cooperation between the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia please see the following document.
13. Dec 2010 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani