Predictability in Politics: Slovakia’s upcoming election

Predictability in Politics. Moving away briefly from the upcoming elections in the US, Joachim Marnitz has a look at the Slovak election this weekend. An interesting case, because it mirrors a few trends that we can observe in Europe and globally as well.

Published on: February 28, 2020

Trend 1: Social Democrat Decay

The most obvious trend to me is the decay of the Social Democrats. This can be seen all across Europe; the most famous examples are probably Labour, as they just recently lost a historical election in Great Britain, while the German SPD has by and large become a walking corpse in last 15 years, losing voters election after election.

In Slovakia this trend holds as well. While Smer-SD still won the last election in 2016 (where they received 28% of the vote), there are signs that they won‘ t come out on top this time around. Polls must not be conducted in Slovakia during the last two weeks before the election, but the downward trend is clearly visible, especially in the last few months:

SOURCE: www.dennikn.sk

While now at 17%, they were polling at 22% as late as October – but both numbers are a far cry from their result in 2016.

Trend 2: Populist surprise

While Smer was still in the lead when the last poll was conducted, we actually expect another party to win: OľaNO, which translates to Ordinary People and Independent Personalities in English. They were surging very late in the polling and we expect this trend to continue and propel them past Smer come election day. Here are the latest polling results from their perspective:

This mirrors another trend in global politics: Surprise results by populist parties, that often get underestimated in the polling prior to the election. Trump is a prime example of that, but the same is true for in many elections globally.

Trend 3: Phasing out the career politicians:

The rise of OľaNO also mirrors the trend of many people being increasingly sick and tired of career politicians. Their name Ordinary People and Independent Personalities is a symbol of exactly that.

Granted, events took a particularly extreme turn in that direction when investigative journalist Jan Kuciak (27) and his fiancé Martina Kusnirova (27) were shot on February 21, 2018 in their home in Western Slovakia, which sparked protests around the country with the biggest uprisings since the Velvet Revolutions gatherings in 1989.

These ultimately forced Prime Minister Robert Fico to resign, but he did remain head of Smer-SD. At the time they were polling at 25.5%, and it has been a downward trajectory ever since.

Trend 4: A fractured party landscape

In many European countries the party landscape is severely fractured, a trend that has become especially pronounced in Germany, which gained roughly one extra major party every decade in the parliament since 1990.

The situation in Slovakia is even more chaotic, as the graph shows:

In fact seven parties are likely to make the 5% threshold, and possibly even eight.

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