Neither money from the state nor the media attention that Marian Kotleba and his far-right party received after they first made it to the top in the Banská Bystrica region and subsequently the national parliament are enough to secure their positions on a regional level now.
Marian Kotleba wraps up his four-year term as regional governor and a pro-democratic candidate behind whom all the anti-extremist votes united, will take over.
“First, I want to open the doors and air the place, and then I would like to fly the EU flag over our regional office,” the Banská Bystrica regional governor-elect Ján Lunter said on election night when his victory became obvious.There will no longer be an extremist governor in Slovakia after the November 4 regional elections and there are only two regional councilors from the far right party for the next four years.
“It is now very important that all the other governors and all the councilors start to very intensively build trust in institutions,” Elena Gallová Kriglerová from the Center for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK) non-governmental think tank told The Slovak Spectator.
The fight should not be against extremists but for democracy and its institutions, she stressed.
Banská Bystrica votes out the extremist
Lunter got the votes of 99,169 citizens of the Banská Bystrica region, which represents 48.5 percent of the total vote, while Kotleba received only 47,502 votes (23.2 percent).
The turnout in the region was extremely high, more than 40 percent. In the first round of the 2013 race, only 24.59 percent of registered voters came.
“It seems we won,” Lunter said shortly before 01:00, when more than 65 percent of the votes were counted. He thanked his family, and also the two candidates who withdrew from the race in his favour: Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) MP Martin Klus and head of the SNP Museum Stanislav Mičev.
“I had two goals: to remove the green men from office and to make sure a democratic candidate won,” said Mičev, as quoted by the Sme.sk website, adding that both have been achieved.
In the Banská Bystrica regional council independent candidates will fill 22 out of 49 seats. Altogether 15 seats will be filled by nominees of the ruling Smer party, while five will go to the Party of the Hungarian Community (SMK), and four to the candidates of the right-wing coalition of SaS, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), NOVA, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Civic Conservative Party (OKS). The Slovak National Party (SNS) and Most-Híd will have one deputy each, as will People’s Party – Our Slovakia (ĽSNS), which will be represented by Kotleba.
Where do the results leave the Slovak far-right?
Head of the extremist party ĽSNS, Marian Kotleba, and his right-hand man Milan Uhrík, ran for the governor posts in the Banská Bystrica and Nitra regions respectively. Despite the concerns that they could have stood a chance in the race, they were both defeated by tens of thousands of votes in their respective regions.