## Saturday, June 17, 2006

### Left-wing populists win in Slovakia

One of the reasons why Czechoslovakia separated after the 1992 elections is that Václav Klaus' right-wing "Civic Democratic Party (ODS)" dominated in the Czech Republic while Vladimír Mečiar's left-wing nationalist populist "Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)" won in the Eastern part of the federation.

In 1998, the left-wing social democracy took over the Czech Republic, and reform right-wing forces led by the Christian democratic parties and Mr. Dzurinda started to control Slovakia.

Figure 1: Politicians fight for the Slovak pie. The giant in the middle is Mr. Vladimír Mečiar who can't really win this time although he might penetrate to the coalition; the dwarf next to him is the current right-wing prime minister Mr. Mikuláš Dzurinda.

In 2006, the right-wing Civic Democratic Party was again the winner of the most recent Czech elections. Because you see that the results in Czechia and Slovakia are always opposite to one another, it should not be hard for you to predict that the strongest party after the Slovak elections this weekend is a left-wing populist party again. It's called
• Smer - sociálná demokrácia [tretia cesta]

which means "Direction - social democracy [third way]" and it is led by Mr. Robert Fico. This winner with around 30 percent is a junk party that promises the best things for the poor, higher taxes for the rich, no detailed plan for anything, and an effective end to most reforms that have created the "Tatra Tiger". Smer was openly supported by the outgoing Czech prime minister Mr. Jiří Quimby Paroubek.

Mr. Fico has said that "the Velvet Revolution was an ordinary coup that did not influence his life in any visible way." That's not too surprising because in 1989, he was a young career communist who was chosen by his comrades to study in the U.S.

The parties that have exceeded 5 percent are:

• SMER: 29 percent (left-wing populists)
• SDKÚ-DS: 18 percent (Slovak democratic and Christian Union of the current prime minister Dzurinda)
• SNS: 12 percent (far right Slovak nationalists; no, it's not exactly swastika beneath the eagle)
• SMK-MKP: 12 percent (Hungarian party)
• ĽS-HZDS: 9 percent (Mečiar's populist party)
• KDH: 8 percent (Christian Democratic Movement)
The canonical "Communist Party of Slovakia" with 4 percent won't get in. The turnout was around 50 percent, higher than expected. Unless the preliminary numbers above are going to be revolutionized, it becomes trivial to form a pure garbage government under the new prime minister Mr. Robert Fico: SMER+SNS+HZDS have 50 percent of all votes which means a very safe majority in the Parliament, much more than 38 percent of the remaining three parties in the Parliament. While I use the mild label "garbage government", the current finance minister of Slovakia Mr. Mikloš is tougher and he called it a "coalition unacceptable for the international community". If the preliminary numbers get even better for SMER and SNS, Fico could even form a coalition of two parties.

If they won't find a better solution, such as the "grand coalition" of SMER and SDKÚ (without Dzurinda) which will together have a slight majority, then the Tatra Tiger and Lisbon champion is probably dead. Long live Tatra Snail or maybe a new Belarus on the Danube. Many people including me have certainly thought privately about the prospects to re-unify Czechoslovakia, but when you see what kind of sh*t can become dominant in Slovakia with no good reason, you should realize that such a re-unification would not be a terribly good idea.