The MYPLACEresearch team at Univerzita sv. Cyrila a Metoda, Trnava, Slovakia, present this piece on the outcome and impact of 2012 Slovakian elections.
For more information on the MYPLACE project, visit the project’s website: HERE
The Tuesday´s (15.5.2012) successful vote of confidence in parliament to the new government led by Robert Fico brings some historical uniqueness. This is the first time in our history when the government took the lead without any rough discussions on the topics of extremism, ethnicity and various radical groups inside or outside the parliament.
Early parliamentary elections in Slovakia held on 10 March 2012 brought several new facts that have not yet been included in our current political and social life. Surprising is the fact that in spite of the proportional electoral system with 26 candidating political parties, 44.4% of the valid votes was gained by SMER-Social Democracy. After unsuccessful steps to form a coalition government it finally established its own government. In the 150 seat parliament the party is supported by its 83 MPs. The majority in parliament in the hectic times of financial crisis and the confidence is indicative of the will of citizens that they want to have a strong government oriented also on socially acceptable solutions for the weaker social groups.
The citizens also decided that the new parliament is not represented by political parties who adhere to a policy of radical nationalism – neither SNS (Slovak National Party) nor SMK (Hungarian Coalition Party). Both parties did not exceed the 5% threshold needed to enter parliament – SNS gained 4.55% and SMK 4.28% of the valid votes. The citizens of Slovakia – either ethnic Slovaks or Hungarians have preferred solutions to the social and economic problems. This is confirmed by the research project ENRI EAST of European Commission (http://revue.kpol.ff.ucm.sk/studie-studies/machacek-ladislav-slovenska-republika-a-jej-madarska-etnicka-mensina-sociologicke-uvahy.html).
A separate chapter of the elections is an attempt to gain political preferences by groups openly claiming to racial hatred and intolerance, under the tutelage of several slogans such as “white Slovakia”, “towns and cities safer for decent citizens” and so on. This group centered on their leader Marian Kotleba has misused relatively liberal legislation and after the dissolution of their civic association has tried to get into Parliament under the cover of People´s Party – Our Slovakia (Ľudová strana – Naše Slovensko http://www.naseslovensko.org).
In recent periods we witness several attacks from members of the local Roma population. The most visible conflict between the majority and citizens from different ethnic groups escalated in the village of Madunice (close to Trnava). Two youngsters with Roma ethnicity beat to death 63 year old man during the folk festival. The decision of the District Court described the attack as a crime with racist overtones. It is the first official verdict that claims the racism from the minority against majority perspective. Despite a relatively strong promotion of the minority crime of many local residents at the commemorative events for the victim, fortunately there is no revenging action planned which would attract a broader support.
It turns out that the people in Slovakia are aware that during the harsh times and difficult economic conditions the solutions do not lie in cheap solutions and quick fixes based on racist basis. Therefore, the electoral gain for the radical party of Kotleba was 1.58% which stands for 40 460 voters out of 2,596,443 participating in the 2012 parliamentary elections.
Overall, the results of parliamentary elections in Slovakia in 2012 confirmed the growing democratic potential of the Slovak citizens. The research design of MyPlace project will certainly bring new information and knowledge that will enable the concept how to improve the education of young people for democratic citizenship in Slovakia. The worsening financial and economic crisis usually activates intolerance and xenophobia among the citizens of Europe. With this in mind we shall not underestimate the potential risks of further development.