Far right wins seats in Slovak National Council, Hungarian minority parties lose ground

Two parties holding positive views on WWII Slovak fascist republic and opposed to minority rights secure 1/5 of seats · Election leaves fragmented Parliament

L'SNS leader Marian Kotleba.
L'SNS leader Marian Kotleba. Author: Jan Kroslak
Two far right parties opposed to the rights of minorities made it into the Slovak Parliament after winning seats in Saturday's legislative election. Current Slovak PM Robert Fico's social democratic SMER again emerged as the largest party, albeit by a much narrower margin if compared to the 2012 election. Besides, a party representing the interests of the Hungarian community retained its place in the country's National Council.

SMER retained 49 of 150 seats in the National Council, down from 83 in 2012. Freedom and Solidarity (SaS, economic liberalism, Euroscepticism, affiliated to the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists) became the second largest party, with 21 seats. Not far behind, with 19 seats, came conservative OL'aNO party.

Two far right parties espousing anti-Roma and anti-Hungarian views came in fourth and fifth place: the Slovak National Party (SNS, 15 seats) and the People's Party-Our Slovakia (L'SNS, 14 seats).

L'SNS leader and Banská Bystrica governor Marian Kotleba made headlines in 2013 when he described the Roma as "parasites," a term that has now been included in the party's election manifesto, which besides this wants Slovakia to move towards "self-sufficiency," seeks to impose "traditional national and Christian principles and values" in education, demands to leave "the NATO terrorist pact," and plans to restore the country's own currency, the Slovak crown. The manifesto also contains anti-gay stances, such as its opposition to "adoption of children by gay couples and promotion of sexual deviations."

In both parties, leaders holding positive opinions of Jozef Tiso can be found. Tiso led, over the 1939-1945 period, a Slovak fascist republic, a client state of Nazi Germany, and contributed to the extermination of Jews. L'SNS, in fact, claims for itself Tiso's "legacy," whom he describes as "a national hero."

In terms of nationalism, election winner Robert Fico cannot be called himself a liberal, either. In 2013 he said that the Slovak state had been established "for the Slovak nation" and not "for minorities," which, he said, had "hijacked" the country. The Slovak PM holds anti-immigration and anti-multiculturalism stances. Moreover, in 2006 he reached a government deal with far right SNS. The agreement earned his SMER party the suspension of Party of European Socialists (PES) membership. The decision was reversed in 2009.

Most-Híd, with 11 seats (down from 13 in 2012), remained the sixth largest party and the only one bearing the flag of Hungarian minority rights. Most-Híd ran the election under a pro-European, pro-diversity platform, and specifically called for the recognition of southern Slovakia -which concentrates most of the Hungarian community- as a region -its territory is currently divided between several provinces. Most-Híd proposes to grant cultural and education autonomy to the Hungarian community.

According to the 2011 census, 80.7% of Slovakia's population declared itself of Slovak nationality. 8.5% said they were Hungarians, 2% Roma, 0,6% Czechs, 0.6%, Ruthenians, and up to 7% decided not to specify their own ethnicity.

In several southern areas along the Slovak-Hungarian border, Hungarians form the majority population.

Another party seeking to represent the Hungarian community, the Party of the Hungarian Community (SMK-MKP), again failed to clear the 5% vote threshold, and thus was again left with no seats (4.3% of the votes in 2012, 4.0% now). MKP was proposing to grant the Hungarian majority region a measure of autonomy.

Another two parties won seats: populist Sme Rodina (11 seats) and centre-right SIET' (10 seats). Analysts say government formation will be a very difficult task in such a fragmented Parliament.