IF YOU'RE looking for a good exercise in game theory, just consider the problem of the “wasted vote” (prepadnutý hlas). And there has rarely been an election season when the experiment was more exciting and when more people were involved than right now.
Voters of parties whose support appears to be hovering around the five-percent threshold required to make it into parliament tend to adopt different types of strategies.
There are those who care little for opinion polls and always act based on their convictions. The Civic Conservative Party (OKS) got 0.32 percent in the 2002 elections and 0.27 percent in 2006. And if it ever decides to run on its own again, you can bet there will again be five to ten thousand people who will give the party their vote.
Then there are those who do pay attention to polls and try to help parties that may have trouble reaching parliament.
In 2010, the Slovak National Party (SNS) made it by only several thousand votes and may not make it at all this year. Yet its result could decide not only the fate of that party but of an entire bloc – without the nationalists, election winner Robert Fico may find it more difficult to find a coalition partner.
And then there is a large group of people who don’t want to risk wasting their vote on a party that in the end will not make it into parliament.
The problem is that as many as seven parties are now in that danger zone – the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), 99 percent – Civic Voice, the SNS, Most-Híd, and the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK). Only Smer and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) can feel safe.
The convergence of so many parties at the magic 5-percent mark seems almost miraculous. And who knows just what their supporters will do?
Add to that the third or more of the voters who are still undecided and you have a situation in which nothing is certain and literally every vote can count. In 2012, going to the polls will certainly be no waste of time.