Crikey psephologist Charles Richardson writes:

Czechs and Slovaks split into separate nations
back in 1993, but sometimes they still seem very similar. Just two
weeks after elections in the Czech Republic produced an indecisive
result, the same thing has happened in Slovakia.

Slovakia has been one of Europe’s success stories in recent years.
Travelling there last month, I found it one of the most interesting and
welcoming countries of central Europe. Although the immediate
post-independence period was dominated by right-wing nationalists,
since then it has embarked on a major reform program. In 2002, prime
minister Mikulas Dzurinda, of the Democratic and Christian Union, was
re-elected – a very rare thing in the ex-Communist countries.

Dzurinda’s coalition fell apart over the last year,
however, with the departure of first the Liberals and then the
Christian Democrats, leading to early elections on Saturday.

The results suggest that reform fatigue has had an
effect. The largest share of votes on Saturday went to the Smer
(“Direction”) party, once an offshoot of the Social Democrats that has
since re-absorbed its parent (provisional results at Wikipedia here).
But that still gives them only 50 seats in the 150-seat parliament, so
although Smer leader Robert Fico will be given the first opportunity to
form a government, putting together a coalition is going to be
difficult.

If the Christian Democrats rejoin the old governing
coalition, it would give them 65 seats, still 11 short of a majority:
the remaining 35 seats are held by two nationalist parties. So although
Fico, according to the BBC, said he hoped to “succeed in forming a
coalition government which will be able to push through a left-wing
program”, he can hardly claim a mandate for drastic change; more
likely he will be hamstrung by having to take on some of his former
opponents as partners.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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