What does the new Slovakian parliament mean for Ukraine?

Author : Kateryna Sidash

Source : 112 Ukraine

Although Slovakia is the closest neighbor of Ukraine, Ukrainian question was not a separate topic of the election campaign
10:13, 11 March 2016

Read the original text on Evropeiska Pravda.

Results of parliamentary elections in Slovakia, held on March 5, has not pleasantly surprised anyone. Rather the opposite.

Counting ballots confirmed many concerns that were heard from the experts.

Rule of Fico is now in the past.But it changed with a party, which sometimes was called "pro-Russian", and we have got some "hodgepodge" of political forces that are far greater threat to Ukraine.

Let's start with mathematics - on Saturday Slovaks elected 150 new members of parliament - the People's Council. As a result of the counting 99.98% of the votes, 8 parties came to the Parliament.

Now ruling Social Democratic party Smer-SD won 28.3% or 49 seats in parliament, the center-right Liberal SAS (Sloboda a Solidarita - Freedom and Solidarity) - 12.1%, or 21 mandate, conservative OĽaNO (Obyčajní Ľudia a nezávislé osobnosti - Ordinary people and independent persons) - 11%, or 19 seats.

After 4-year absence returned far right National Party (SNS, Slovenská národná strana), it received 8.6% and 15 seats. In the period from 2006 to 2010, SNS was in the government coalition with the Social Democrats, creating many problems for Smer-SD.SNS is famous for its racist statements against Roma and Hungarian minorities.

With a score of 8%, or 14 seats, rightwing People's Party - Our Slovakia (ĽSNS, Ľudová strana - Naše Slovensko) has been elected to the parliament for the first time. Its leader Marian Kotlebu was repeatedly noticed in aggressive rhetoric towards Roma population, anti-Semitism, sympathetic to the ideas of the superiority of the white race and aggressive Euroscepticism.

Most of those who voted for far right party L'SNS are students and young people. According to national exit polls, 23% of citizens who voted for the first time, voted for the rightwing and racist ĽSNS.

Experts have called it an alarming bell for the educational system, which cannot instill in young Slovaks critical thinking and give a proper evaluation of the period of Slovakian collaboration with Nazi Germany.

The mention of Nazism is not an exaggeration.

Related: Far-right party renaissance during Ukraine's local elections

During the campaign the far rights played on the extreme right ideas of "strong Slovakia", period of collaboration with Nazi Germany.

However, these two far-right parties gained about 15% of the vote and are unlikely to enter the coalition.

A key theme of the campaign was the need for comprehensive reforms in health and education.

Government of the Social Democrat Robert Fico made a numerous errors and abuses in these sensitive areas for ordinary citizens. And some of the problems became known for during the campaign.

In recent months, there were were numerous cases of fraud and corruption in the country, "protests of nurses and teachers," who demanded better working conditions and wages. And the ruling party, which had sole majority in parliament, and could not form an adequate policy to problematic issues.

Not without the Russian question. The current Prime Minister Robert Fico has been repeatedly accused of having links with Russian business and very soft position towards Russia.

Related: Ukrainian helicopter, fallen in Slovakia, carried illegal migrants

Politicians from the ruling SMER-SD publicly questioned the need for sanctions against public officials from Russia (in particular, Dmitry Rogozin) and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia is one of the few officials of the EU, who visited Russia on an official visit after the beginning of the active phase of Donbas conflict.

Although Slovakia is the closest neighbor of Ukraine, Ukrainian question was not a separate topic of the election campaign.

Moreover, because of the pro-Russian sentiment in the Slovak part of society. Far right forces has played this card, combining in their rhetoric neo-Nazi and pro-Russian ideas that in reality are in opposition to EU policy, rather than a real understanding of the political realities and prospects of cooperation with Russia.

Related: Slovakia interested in exploration of Ukraine’s gas deposits, - Lajčák

The hysteria about migrants heated by the ruling party, also played into the hands of radicals.

That is why Ukraine has been mentioned as a potential supplier of migrants into the country.

A very important role has played the Russian propaganda. Its audience in Slovakia is poorer and less educated population.

Russian agents are actively working to influence the social networks and online media.

However, today, most politicians emphasize the need for a consolidated approach of the EU to Ukraine-Russia conflict and the need for structural reforms irreversible in Ukraine as a prerequisite for sustainable development.

* * * * *

Ukrainians often consider Slovakia as a controversial country.

It was one of the first EU countries that ratified the Association Agreement. Slovak embassy is one of the most loyal to the Ukrainians and actively issuing long-term multi-entry visas. Slovakia ranks 13th place in terms of bilateral trade between Ukraine and the European proportion of 2.8%.

Nevertheless, not everything was so smooth - Kyiv resented Fico’s contacts with Moscow, and in 2015 between Kyiv and Bratislava was a scandal.

And if anyone was hoping that elections will help to forget troubles and begin a friendship with a "clean slate" after the coming parliamentary radicals positive forecasts may not materialize. Slovak policy towards Ukraine is very difficult to be predicted.

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