Richard Sulík remains the leader of opposition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), after he was supported by 134 members of the party at a vote held on March 16. His rival in the election, Jozef Kollár, received 121 votes, the TASR newswire reported.
Shortly after the vote, Sulík said that in the past few months the Slovak public got to experience something that is not common in the country: a truly open election campaign for the top SaS post.
“I think that we both managed this fight with honour,” said Sulík, as quoted by TASR. He added that he would like to meet with Kollár and discuss the possible changes he might enact within the party.
Kollár congratulated Sulík on his re-election and said that he respects the results of the vote, adding that the whole campaign was correct and decent. He stressed that even though he lost the election, he does not want to leave the party.
Kollár also listed two conditions under which he is willing to cooperate with Sulík. The first condition is that Sulík will accept and realise some of the requirements Kollár included in his own Decalogue, which he presented during a meeting with SaS members. Second, Sulík will not punish members of the party who supported Kollár during the campaign, TASR wrote.
Sulík responded that he does not plan to punish the members who supported Kollár, saying that “the unity of the party is more important for me”, the Sme daily wrote.
Political scientist Michal Horský told TASR that Sulík’s re-election will result in stagnation.
“A party with a minimum membership base [i.e. less than 300 people] in which the difference in the chairman’s election amounts to a mere dozen votes will remain on the verge of the 5-percent ravine,” Horský said, referring to the fact that SaS received only 5.88 percent of the vote in the March 2012 parliamentary elections, compared to the 12.14 percent it received in the 2010 election.
It is obvious that the delegates at the SaS congress were not able to envision either a new leader or any new agenda, but instead wanted to continue with politics that were clearly rejected by the voters in the 2012 general election, Horský added.
Also Ján Baránek from Polis polling agency believes that with the re-election of Sulík, SaS has missed its chance to increase its support among voters. He told the SITA newswire that it is not very likely that the leader who brought the party “to preferential, and mostly election decline” would be able to increase the approval of the party.
He also believes that Kollár would have established better relations with leaders of other opposition parties.
Source: TASR, Sme, SITA
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.