Smer has to learn a lesson from this election, Smer caucus head and Bratislava regional chairman of the party, ex-minister Martin Glváč, told the Sme daily. Old, burnt-out candidates and people ashamed of Smer’s support should be replaced, he added.
By the latter, he referred to the unsuccessful candidate for Bratislava regional governor, Milan Ftáčnik, who complained after the vote that Smer's support harmed his results. Glváč slammed Ftáčnik for distancing himself from Smer and added that since he has been doing so, his popularity has been declining. The ex-minister did not have any explanation, however, for the failure of Smer’s candidate in the Košice Region, incumbent Košice Mayor Richard Raši, who had previously been seen as a clear favourite.
“I accept the election results with humility and respect,” Glváč told Sme. "I try to learn from them. Each election takes place under certain circumstances and at a certain time, and this must be taken into consideration.”
Lessons to learn, consequences to follow
The party will certainly evaluate this campaign and in the future they will nominate candidates who are not old and burnt-out, Glváč noted.
“We will evaluate and prepare new candidates,” he said, as cited by Sme.
In Bratislava they will pick people who are not ashamed of the party, who are close to leftist policy, have clean financing, and will be clean and transparent themselves, Glváč added. “We will have to fish in different waters now.”
However, when commenting on the elections he said that a parliamentary election is totally different from a regional or EU-election, and so the further development of Smer will have to be continuously watched.
“But of course, there is always a lesson to be drawn from them [i.e. the election results],” Glváč told Sme.
Vice-PM agrees, more diplomatic
His view was reflected, although in a more diplomatic form, by Deputy Prime Minister for Investment and Informatisation Peter Pellegrini in the V Politike (In Politics) political show of the private TA3 TV channel. He admitted that Smer had expected a better result.
“I don’t think a decline of the party has begun as of today,” he added, noting that the party is big enough, with many mayors and experts who can hardly be challenged by anyone on professional terms.
The party is viable and it’ll certainly be able to deal with this, said Pellegrini, admitting that he was surprised to see Smer’s defeat in some regions, albeit by small margins.
He ascribes the defeats of four-time governor of Prešov Peter Chudík and three-time governor of Žilina Juraj Blanár to the “weariness of the material”. Pellegrini also conceded to some personnel changes in Smer at the regional and local levels in response to the election results.
The most popular governing party, Smer, suffered a defeat in the Saturday regional election, Smer deputy chair and Culture Minister Marek Maďarič conceded, as quoted by the TASR newswire. He does not believe that only Smer candidates are to be blamed for the election fiasco, since this was the defeat of the entire party per se.
“Therefore, if we in Smer don’t want to continue this trend, we need to embrace significant changes at various levels – political, programme and personnel related,” he said, as quoted by TASR.
Prime Minister Robert Fico has so far declined to comment on the election results, while Pellegrini’s statements were perceived as the official party stance.