Slovakia: The Fight for Nationalistic Voters

2010 is the year of the parliamentary elections in Hungary and in Slovakia. As is perhaps usual anywhere in the world, in the time before the elections some politicians are starting to recall irrational tensions, thinking they will profit from them.

One example is the Slovak National Party‘s “patriotic law,” which originally got the support of SMER, the main Slovak political party. After public protests, Slovakia's president Ivan Gašparovič returned the law to the parliament, officially asking to postpone its ratification.

In the next parliamentary round, SMER seemed to have taken the public opinion into account and did not vote for the law. But on the same day, the parliament approved a new “patriotic law” introduced by SMER's leader, the current Slovak prime minister Robert Fico. The initiative could be labeled as Fico's next populist step and, even though his version is much lighter than the previous one, this can still be seen as his fight for the Slovak National Party's voters.

In Hungary, the winner of the election is Viktor Orban. Even before establishing his new government, he was in a hurry to keep his older promise and introduced a draft law that would allow Hungarians living abroad to obtain Hungarian citizenship. Back in 2004, Hungary held a referendum on this issue, but it failed because the turnout was only 19 percent then.

Shortly before the upcoming June 12 Slovak election, PM Fico was criticized for the growth of the state debt (a sensitive theme due to the present Greek problems), growing corruption and the newest allegations about illegal financing of his party. In this situation, it must have seemed highly appropriate to turn his attention to something else, so Fico started to use Orban's law for his own political agenda. He called a meeting of the Slovak Security Council and declared that Slovakia was “ready for strong counter-measures” if the discussion with Hungary fails.

(On a different note, according to another Security Council statement by Fico, Slovakia will be working closely with Poland and the Czech Republic on potential flood damage control due to long-lasting rains in Central Europe – but there's been no mention of Hungary, where most Slovak rivers flow.)

Here are some views from Slovak netizens, part of a discussion of a SME article about PM Fico's fear of the Hungarian citizenship:

strejda64 [a declared SMER voter]:

I've been working with Hungarians in Austria for four years already, what we here speak in whisper about … they discuss loudly. They simply want borders to be changed, Trianon canceled and the Big Hungaria re-established. […] These are the people who have never been to Slovakia or Romania, where Hungarian minorities live, they just live with the feeling of big unfairness that happened to the Hungarian nation…


Jonesy [a declared Most-Híd voter]:

I also have dual citizenship – Czech and Slovak. Does it mean Fico is afraid of me so much that he considers me a security risk? fee-faw-fum :-D


kverulant [a declared voter of SaS, a newbie opposition party]:

Is it possible that Orban does not realize that this way he supports a chance to keep the present [Slovak] government members in office? It's impossible.

The only logical result: he wants to have an enemy available during his governance, so that a smoke cloud could be produced in case of any internal Hungarian problems. […]



If there were no Hungarians, then we should invent them to allow stupids speak about something, and politicians […] are secretly laughing that they have a perpetuum mobile that helps them to get into parliament. Just let us dream about the Hungarian threat – […] while [politicians] enjoy their perfect lives…

About half a million of ethnic Hungarians live in Slovakia (approximately 10 percent of Slovakia's population), and in the past elections many of them naturally voted for the Party of Hungarian Coalition, founded in 1998 as a union of smaller parties. In the past, several of the party's representatives held seats in the Slovak government.

A year ago, the leader of the Party of Hungarian Coalition, Béla Bugár, left the party (leaving the most nationalistic members behind) and established a new one, Most-Híd (“Bridge”). This more civic party also has the support of a few Slovak voters. After adopting part of the Party of Hungarian Coalition voters, it is still not certain whether either or both of the Hungarian parties will obtain 5% of the votes needed to enter the parliament.

Orban's effort was perceived as support for the original Party of Hungarian Coalition. Also, Orban's future foreign minister János Martonyi “diplomatically” visited the headquarters of the Party of Hungarian Coalition only, ignoring Bugár's “too liberal” counterpart.

The Slovak National Party had its own bad experience with dividing, when in 2002 both factions stayed out of the parliament. A year later, parts of it were re-united under Ján Slota, known as one of the main parliamentary absentees, who once appeared allegedly drunk, and who enjoys piloting small planes and driving luxury cars “lent to him by one of his friends for his personal use” – and who is quite notorious for his reference to the ancient Hungarians as “Mongoloid types with crooked legs and even more disgusting horses.” Thanks to PM Fico's recent activity in the nationalist field, the Slovak National Party is also facing problems with the 5% quota.

Ján Slota now features in SME newspaper's “Absolutely Seriously” satiric series. Recent “What Would Hitler Say About the Slovak National Party” is another such parody based on Downfall/Der Untergang, a 2004 film depicting the final days of Adolf Hitler in his Berlin bunker. SME has kept the original sound, but added subtitles that completely change the meaning of the original.

In the first part, Hitler, as an imaginary tutor of his Slovak ally, reacts to the bad news and decides that he is not going to ignore Slota's behavior just because of the fees he receives from him, in the end accusing him of being Hungarian. (During World War II, Slovakia was Germany's ally, and “the Slovakian government paid the Germans 500 marks per head for the ‘privilege’ of deporting their Jewish citizens to Nazi death camps.”)

Below is a copy of SME's satirical video, posted on, with subtitles translated into English:

P. S.
Slovak elections 2010 results compared to 2006 (selected parties):
SMER 35% (29%)
Bridge 8% (-)
Slovak National Party 5.07% (12%)
Party of Hungarian Coalition 4% (12%)

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