Interview with Grigorij Meseznikov

How do you see the prospects of the radical right on the middle term, after SNS have fallen out of the parliament? Do they have the chance to get back to the parliament?

There are three relevant outcomes of Slovak elections 2010:

  1. creation of majority government led by left populist Smer-SD party (this party became dominant party within party system),
  2. weakening the position and increasing the level of fragmentation of moderate center-right forces (there are five de facto small center right formations – three established parties KDH, SDKÚ.DS and Most-Híd and one heterogeneous political association Ordinary People),
  3. ousting of radical nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS) from the parliament.

In pre-electoral polls the SNS was oscillating around 5-percent  threshold. Eventually, it gained 4.55 percent of votes. Three factors could fatally impact SNS election result:

- competition with newly created party NaS (Nation and Justice), founded by two former SNS MPs (including Anna Belousovová/Malíková). This party gained 0.63 percent of votes, which SNS would desperately need to overcome 5-percent threshold

- strengthening the positions of extremist ĽS-NS/Peoples Party – Our Slovakia (another name of Slovenská pospolitosť – Slovak Community), which could attract a number of traditional SNS voters

- efficient electoral campaign of Smer-SD, which even without openly playing by ethnic (anti-Hungarian) card could attract more moderate parts of SNS electorate through combination of such topics as „strong social policy”, stability  and „protection of national interests”.

SNS was in the past only one party inSlovakiawhich succeeded to get back to the parliament after previous falling out from it, however it happened in different circumstances. Party did not qualify into parliament in 2002 due to the real internal split into two parties with an equal electoral support. After lost elections 2002 they re-united and in 2006 the restored single SNS entered the parliament again. Chances of SNS to get back to the parliament seem to be weaker now. Possible re-unification with marginal NaS would not bring any new dynamism to SNS’ activities, post-election internal stagnation in the party can be expected in the short and mid-term perspective.

Is there any chance of a new radical right force to emerge, or the current parliamentary parties are expected to occupy his position?

This variant does no seem very likely, at least in the short-term perspective. Rather we can account with the strengthening of ĽS-NS, which improved its electoral result from 1.33 percent in 2010 to 1.58 percent in 2012. The established parliamentary parties (“social-democrats”, moderate conservatives, Christian democrats, liberals) do not have potential for occupying the empted space after SNS left the parliament. Leader of the new formation Ordinary People Igor Matovič is using from time to time relatively sophisticated nationalist rhetoric to attract voters, however it can not fully replace radical nationalist SNS.

Can you write down some conspiracy theories that have emerged in the campaign? (anti-Semitic, anti-Hungarian, anti-Roma conspiracy theories, Gorilla-affair, etc. ).

Gorilla case encouraged some “alternative” politicians to develop conspiracy-like pre-electoral discourses. Movement “99 %”, established by the group of entrepreneurs (the name “99%” had nothing in common with the internationally known movement, it was literally plagiarized) worked with the slogan “1% of chosen persons are oppressing 99% of the population”. Word “chosen” did not have ethnic, but social connotation (oligarchs, corrupt politicians and state officials), however the intent was to provoke the feeling that real decisions about life of society and people are made inside the closed-doors-rooms. Igor Matovič, who competed electorally with “99%”, publicized the Jewish origin of the founders of “99%” (“extraordinary wealthy Bratislava-located Jewish family trading with arms”). The factual side of the case was correct, however, the mentioning of Jewish origin was symptomatic and indicated that this politician was able to use the widely spread anti-Semitic stereotypes. Anti-Hungarian and anti-Roma appeals, used in the campaign, did not have conspiratorial nature,  apart of traditional mentioning “Budapest” (embodiment ofHungary) as an main engine of politics represented by Hungarian parties inSlovakia– Most-Híd and SMK/MKP

What do you see the future of Hungarian – Slovakian relations? What could be the main target of ethnocentric politics in the future? The Roma or the Hungarian?

The prospects of Hungarian – Slovak relations will depend on how the new ruling party Smer-SD will treat the issue domestically and internationally. Its possible moderation can lower the level of ethnic tension. The topic itself, however, will remain one of the most politically relevant (representation and participation of minorities, introduction of the elements of minority autonomy, state minority policy etc.). Importance of the so called “Roma factor” is rising, it is becoming efficient tool of electoral mobilization, in the eastern part of the country not only the extremist and radical nationalist politicians from the ĽSNS and SNS used anti-Roma sentiments, but even some politicians from the mainstream moderate parties did not restrict themselves from doing so.

Institute for Public Affairs

Categories English, News, Slovakia | Tags: | Posted on May 3, 2012

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