Slovakia held its parliamentary elections yesterday, and as has often been the case in Central and Eastern Europe recently, it did not turn out well for progressive politics.
The ruling social-democratic party, Smer-SD (Direction and Social Democracy) was roundly defeated, losing 34 seats out of 83 and more importantly its parliamentary majority. Nevertheless, it remains by a considerable margin the largest political party in the Slovak National Council. The very worrying story of this election is the rise in support amongst Slovaks for hard-right, anti-immigrant, and racist parties. The Slovak National Party and a new group, People's Party-Our Slovakia, entered the Slovak National Council with 8.6% and 8.0% of the vote respectively which gave them 15 seats and 14 seats. 'People's Party-Our Slovakia' is actually a neo-Nazi party similar to the Slovak nationalist and anti-Semitic movement led by Nazi collaborator Jozef Tiso in World War II, whereas the Slovak National Party is ultranationalist and has expressed racist views towards the Hungarian and Romani minorities of Slovakia.
Meanwhile, the non-racist right-of-centre parties could not achieve much of an advance, with the free-market liberal party Freedom of Solidarity (SaS) only managing to gain 10 extra seats despite finishing a (distant) second to Smer-SD, and Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO) only gained 3 seats. The moderate pro-Hungarian interests party, Most-Hid, lost two of its 13 seats and the Christian Democrats (KDH) only polled 4.94%, just 0.06% below the 5% threshold needed for representation; this left them without any MPs in Slovakia for the first time since it was founded in 1990, two years before Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. (Slovak elects all its MPs in one nationwide constituency in the same way the Netherlands does.) This can be blamed not only on rising support for extreme-right parties as opposed to centre-right parties but also the rise of the Network Party which was founded by a former KDH member and is also moderately conservative, as well as the We Are Family party led by Boris Kollar (not affiliated with the 1970s song of the same name, by the way).
Real progressive forces sadly did not even come close to winning representation. The Green Party of Slovakia and the Communist Party of Slovakia only polled 0.67% and 0.62% respectively. The Green Party of Slovakia at least improved on their 2012 performance, whereas the Communist Party of Slovakia's support continued to decline, being 0.1% down on 2012.
Another story in a worrying political trend that is occurring amongst the refugee crisis and the continuing Great Recession-Western Europe is (mostly) opening up more to progressive politics and rejecting the failed austerity doctrine whilst Central and Eastern Europe are becoming more conservative and less open-minded politically overall.