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The KDH's travails

THE CHRISTIAN Democratic Movement (KDH) will, it seems, soon lose another MP. Radoslav Procházka, who last year attacked the party’s present course and went on to establish his own so-called ‘platform’, named Alfa, within the party now says he will not run as a KDH candidate in future elections. The KDH saw one of its deputy leaders, Daniel Lipšic, along with one other MP quit the party soon after last year’s general election to set up a new party, New Majority (NOVA).

Radoslav Procházka(Source: SME)

THE CHRISTIAN Democratic Movement (KDH) will, it seems, soon lose another MP. Radoslav Procházka, who last year attacked the party’s present course and went on to establish his own so-called ‘platform’, named Alfa, within the party now says he will not run as a KDH candidate in future elections. The KDH saw one of its deputy leaders, Daniel Lipšic, along with one other MP quit the party soon after last year’s general election to set up a new party, New Majority (NOVA).

While last year Procházka said he aspired to win over people within the KDH to his programme, and gain a mandate to push this programme through, on January 26, 2013, he announced that he would not run on a KDH slate again. Procházka made his statement in response to what he called the party’s lack of interest in his programme and suggested that he would say whether he plans to quit the KDH deputy faction – and thereby become an independent MP – at the next parliamentary session, according to the SITA newswire.

KDH leader Ján Figeľ responded that Procházka still has his place within the party and that Alfa could yet be one of the contributions to the programme of the movement. Figeľ also added that upon his proposal the KDH Council had supported the idea of a seminar to discuss Alfa in order to incorporate it into the KDH programme, SITA reported. However, none of this was enough for Procházka, who introduced his programme to the KDH Council last October and who says that he has waited in vain for a clear response ever since.

Political analysts say that Procházka and his ambitions remain unclear at this point and that the KDH might be facing an even more serious problem than it realises.

“His decision not to run for the KDH [ever again] appears to be a step into the void,” Juraj Marušiak, a political scientist with the Institute of Political Sciences, part of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV), told The Slovak Spectator.

Procházka in fact has two alternatives: to create his own party, or to join an already existing political group, said Marušiak, who then referred to Procházka’s contacts with members of the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) parliamentary caucus around Juraj Miškov who are dissatisfied with current SaS leader Richard Sulík.

“His ambition of improving politics as such is closer to the appeal presented by Robert Fico at the end of the 1990s,” Marušiak said. “In fact, he could not fulfil such a demanding ambition without political backing. Several political forces and leaders will be in the impending fight for the role of integrator of the right wing.”

Pavel Haulík, head of the MVK polling agency, assumes that Procházka’s recent discourse presages his departure from the KDH.

“What it will mean in fact will depend on whether he decides to form his own party or joins an existing force,” said Haulík, adding that MVK polls suggest that the KDH is no longer such a monolith. The departure of significant figures, he warned, threatens to shake the party more significantly than in the past.

It seems that Lipšic took some voters with him when he left last year, and it cannot be ruled out that Procházka’s eventual departure might have a similar impact, Haulík said.

“The KDH might be facing a more serious problem than it is currently aware of,” said Haulík, adding that the party might find itself in a position from which it would be difficult to aspire to become the leading force on the right.

Ján Baránek, a sociologist with the Polis polling agency, suggests that if Procházka wants to stay in politics he will have to transfer his platform to a political party, which might be only “yet another political party in the centre-right arena” and thus would merely contribute to the fragmentation of the right.

“As voters aren’t falling from the sky, [his] chances are quite limited,” said Baránek, adding that since Lipšic and his party have already emerged it is hard to say where Procházka would find supporters. “But then everything might be heading towards the re-integration of this political spectrum.”

NOVA's prospects

Meanwhile, Lipšic said on February 2, that Procházka would find the door open to his NOVA party at any time and that the offer he made to Procházka in October 2012 still stands.

In early January, NOVA unexpectedly emerged as the most popular opposition party in an MVK poll. It received 8.9-percent support in the survey, carried out in January 2013, the TASR newswire reported. It had previously polled at around 3 to 5 percent in most of the polls held since its establishment in autumn 2012. A Focus poll in January 2013 suggested that NOVA would just scrape into parliament, with 5 percent of the vote, the threshold for winning seats. In a similar Focus poll in December 2012, New Majority received just 3.7-percent support.

The differences between the party’s performances in opinion polls are so large that it is too early to evaluate the development of the party’s popularity, said Marušiak. For him the party at this point appears to be just one among many right wing parties and even though there are cases – as, for example, with Lipšic’s possible criminal prosecution – which might make him more visible, so far NOVA does not represent such a large breakthrough as Smer represented at the time of its entry into the political arena.

Haulík says it is difficult to predict how NOVA will change things on the right.

“There are enough dissatisfied voters on the centre-right of the political spectrum, but that does not mean that they will automatically incline to Lipšic’s project,” said Haulík. “That depends on what else is on offer and, of course, from whom.”

According to Haulík, the current preferences of NOVA aren’t locked in a safe and the party will have to keep defending its support.

“I would say that, currently, these are voters [whose support is] rather unstable – who know what they do not want but who are only searching for what they do want,” Haulík told The Slovak Spectator.

Baránek remains somewhat unconvinced when it comes to the popularity of Lipšic’s party, suggesting that so far it has been rather disappointing. He expressed some doubt about the poll in which NOVA recorded almost 9-percent support.

“He has a chance to surpass 5 percent, but he definitely has to be more active than [he has been] so far,” Baránek concluded.

SaS to hold leadership vote

SaS deputy Jozef Kollár (SaS) said on January 29 that he considers Alfa to be a meaningful programme and he would like to help bring it to life. Kollár argued that if someone arrives with a meaningful offer to change the functioning of the state then it is one’s duty to respond to it, regardless of its source. SaS deputy leader Juraj Miškov agreed with Kollár’s opinions, SITA reported

The SaS in March 2013 will see Sulík and Kollár competing for the party chairmanship with Haulík suggesting that voters would prefer Kollár. He referred to an MVK survey which asked people, irrespective of their party preferences, whom they regard as a better leader: 25.9 percent picked Kollár and 22.4 percent Sulík, SITA reported.

Radka Minarechová and Zuzana Vilikovská contributed to this story

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