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Slovak government’s formation may hinge on ethnic Hungarians

Dócza Edith Krisztina
2023.09.28. 12:30
Slovak government’s formation may hinge on ethnic Hungarians

Preparations are in full swing for the snap parliamentary election due on Saturday in Slovakia. Many people claim that it is the most important vote of the past twenty years. The last surveys before the election indicate that Alliance (Szovetseg), Krisztian Forro's party of the ethnic Hungarian community living in the south of the country, has a high chance of entering the parliament. Political scientist Zoltan Kiszelly, director of political analysis at the Szazadveg Institute, told Magyar Nemzet that if Hungarian politicians get a mandate, it will be a decisive factor in Hungarian-Slovak relations as well.

“If there is a Hungarian party in the Bratislava parliament, then Hungarian-Slovak relations are generally better. This is also true in Romania: if the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (RMDSZ) is in the parliament or in the government coalition, the Hungarian-Romanian relations are more positive,” political scientist Zoltan Kiszelly, political analysis director at the Szazadveg Institute told Magyar Nemzet, describing why the election of the Alliance party into the Slovak parliament is important for Hungary. The party, led by Krisztian Forro, has good chances on Saturday’s vote: the entry threshold is four percent, and the last surveys by Ipsos and the data published by the Brussels news portal Politico suggest that if the election were held now, the party would receive three percent. 

The difference may well be made up by Saturday and the politicians of the party may receive a parliamentary mandate.

According to the surveys, the left-wing Direction – Social Democracy (Smer) party led by Robert Fico may gain the most seats, with 20.6 percent of the votes. In second place in the polls is the leftist Progressive Slovakia (PS) party, which would win 17 percent of the votes, while the Voice – Social Democracy (Hlas) party is ranked third with 13 percent. Zoltan Kiszelly said that Smer and the Alliance can still increase their support during the campaign. "If this trend continues, there is a chance for the Alliance party to enter the parliament," he added.

Hungarian representation is particularly important in the Slovak parliament. On the one hand, there was no Hungarian party in parliament in the previous term, and on the other hand, a three- or four-party coalition will be needed to form a government, and it is quite possible that the Alliance will play a decisive role in that, Zoltan Kiszelly explained.

He cited Spain as an example, where a stalemate arose after the summer parliamentary elections: the Catalan minority holds the balance of power, and now the Spanish right and the left are both promising them extra rights in order to gain their support.

Krisztian Forro previously said that Slovak parties do not solve the problems of the Hungarians, therefore Hungarian representation is definitely needed.

If there is no strong representation in the parliament and the government, then the interests of the ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia will be relegated to the back,

Zoltan Kiszelly emphasized.

Many investments would be needed in southern region that would improve the lives of the people living there. The expert cited as an example the construction of bypass roads (around Komarno, among others) and bridges over the Ipoly river. He pointed out that in Slovakia, development resources are distributed to regions according to their altitude over sea level, but Hungarians live mainly in the northern areas of the lowlands, where less resources are available than in higher-lying towns. This rule adversely affects Hungarians and Hungarian parliamentary representation is needed to change it, he added. The realization of development projects, however, is not only in the interests of Hungarians. The areas east of Kosice are also considered underdeveloped, where, in addition to Hungarians, Roma and Slovak people also live in large numbers.

Locals are also looking forward to the election. Many of them told the press that they consider it the most important vote of the past twenty years. A man told the British newspaper  The Guardian that he had canceled a vacation to stay at home and vote.

Cover photo: the ethnic Hungarian party Alliance, led by Krisztian Forro, is campaigning in Okoc, Slovakia, on September 27, 2023, three days before the early parliamentary elections (Source: Facebook/Krisztian Forro)


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