EU Elections 2014: Slovakia

Opposite to the very serious and professional attitude of Europe’s strongest economy of Germany, in Slovakia the European Parliament election on May 24th was widely regarded as a farce. The expected voter turnout was estimated not to breech over 30% and generally speaking, there was very little interest in actively participating in the decision making.

All it takes you is to take a look around. I am standing in the middle of the parking lot, in front of a well known supermarket chain. People hurriedly pass the inquisitive eyes staring at them from the billboards, mutely pushing their carts laden with groceries. For the average citizen, the number one priority is to feed his family. Why should he care about unknown - for the most part - men and women looking down at him, faces enlarged to otherworldly proportions?

Slovakia has 13 seats in the European Parliament. This, compared to other member states, is an insignificant number. Strategically speaking, we do not have the manpower to introduce or enforce any policy what so ever. The only card we may play with is the pipeline that brings Russian gas into Europe, but that is a topic for a different article. Anyway, the post of a MEP is regarded as a cozy and safe spot for politicians who have either outlived their career at home or have been otherwise professionally disgraced. Sweeping the proverbial dust under the carpet, Brussels is far enough from Bratislava for them to be considered forgotten. 

Looking at the billboards, I am faced with more or less unknown people. Sure, Slovakia’s ruling party SMER-SD’s (“Direction – Social Democracy) candidate Maroš Šefčovič is backed by the current Prime Minister Robert Fico (who is trying to look cool and casual without his signature red tie), but it does not diminish the fact that the party is well known for single handedly destroying our health care, military, education and infrastructure. A populist, pseudo-socialist party, they have recently come close to taking over all major positions within the country, but were sorely defeated when the PM lost his bid for the presidential office to the independent candidate Andrej Kiska. Many members of the intelligentsia regard this as a close call with our one party Communist past.

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"The right Slovak for Europe" votes "a successful Slovakia in Europe" 

Next up is SMER’s number one enemy, the opposition SDKÚ (“Slovak Democratic – Catholic Union“). Both parties have experienced MP and MEP on their roster and Ivan Štefanec is no different. Situated on the right side of the spectrum, they represent a traditional and more conservative block, as can be noted by their extensive use of the color blue instead of Communist red. However, the party has lost all credibility following the “Gorila” investigation, where it was exposed that many of its members had secret dealings with a large financial group, selling government assets in health care and energy sector, and pocketing a large sum of money in the process. Interestingly enough, the current Slovak PM Robert Fico was also implicated, but under his leadership the investigation was skillfully brushed off the table to its nonexistent status today.

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"Our MP in Europe" 

A very interesting party in the mix is the Most-Híd (“Bridge“). Liberal in their nature and billboard color, they are the only party in the Slovak parliament that represents our biggest ethnic minority – the Hungarians. However, this dual status is lost upon the rest of the MPs, as well as most of the inhabitants. Thus the  “Bridge” is left with more of a sidekick status, often given sidekick ministries such as the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Environment. Their biggest voter base is of course situated in the predominantly Hungarian south.

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"To protect the weak" 

Then there are groups like this: “Nation and Justice“. Nobody knows where they come from. Nobody knows what their vision is. Looking at their candidate lists, I see writers and artists, students and jobless; there is even a magician among them! You might have noticed, that I have not delved deep into individual party‘s agendas. Let me offer a simple explanation: behind the usual promises and slogans, they do not have one! One gets an overwhelming feeling that the goal is not to make changes. The goal, for the most part, is to secure a well paying placement abroad.

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"Good power - unified Slavs" 

To conclude my little analysis, it is actually in this goal, despite their many empty words, that the candidates most represent their potential voters. Ironically, they also strive for the same comforts: a good salary and a roof above their heads. The only difference is that the most of us are stuck here, working hard to make ends meet, and with far less zeroes on our check at the end of the month. 

Edited by: Celeste Concari
Photo Credits: Julian Peter