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The Slovak Presidential Elections Viewed from Budapest and Bucharest

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Raoul Weiss.

Slovakia – The Slovak presidential elections held on Saturday 16 March – a first round so heavily dominated by Euro-globalist candidate Zuzana Čaputová (a “Slovak Macron” in favour of the LGBT agenda) that the second round could become a simple formality – have not unleashed passions in Hungary.

There are several reasons for this lack of interest.

The first reason is that it is customary in Central Europe to consider Slovakia as a recent and fragile state, characterized by a foreign policy of wait-and-seeism and opportunism – as a small scale replica of the almost neighbouring Romania (which, at least due to its size, could theoretically afford more audacity – but does not). To some extent, this view is a priori correct, so that the future of the V4 will probably continue to depend more on the balance of the Budapest-Prague-Warsaw triangle than on Slovak hesitations.

The next reason – a more specifically Hungarian one – is that the highest ranked Hungarian candidate was the one representing the Most/Híd party (the “bridge party”), which on the one hand is quite hostile to FIDESZ, and on the other hand performed disastrously, staying under Čaputová even in the southern areas with a large Hungarian population. It is therefore as difficult now for Hungary’s elites to congratulate themselves on a decline in the Hungarian ethnic vote in Slovakia than it would have been difficult for them – in the case of a better performance – to congratulate themselves on the good results of a minority leader (Béla Bugár) who does not get on well with Viktor Orbán.

In reality, the lesson of this vote, from the Hungarian point of view, should be clear: indoctrinated by ethnic parties which remain focused on the essentially Open Society discourse of “minority rights” within the mental framework of a successful and unavoidable euro-globalization, Hungarian minorities in neighbouring countries are likely to prefer the original to the copy; in any case, this seems to have been the case for a good number of Hungarians in Slovakia, preferring to join forces with their (ethnically) Slovak urban counterparts in the same Euro-liberal cult rather than to maintain ethnic discipline around a party basically offering them “the same thing but in Hungarian”. This full-scale test could and should make Hunor Kelemen, president of the UDMR/RMDSZ (the main Hungarian party in Romania), and his new suzerain Viktor Orbán, understand what is likely to come out of the “ecumenical Transylvanism” with which the liberal wing of said UDMR/RMDSZ, under the influence of the liberal Hungarian-speaking elites of Cluj/Kolozsvár, has been recently flirting. Those parties claiming to be “bridges” between liberals from the national ethnic majorities and liberals from the Hungarian minorities have indeed shown a strong tendency to become one-way bridges, leading the Hungarian-speaking electorate massively and definitively towards the parties and coalitions of ethnic majorities within the post-Trianon states.

From a Hungarian point of view, irredentist hardliners would seemingly have reasons to rejoice at these recent Slovakian results, which deepen the divorce between an urbanized South contiguous to Hungary, standing behind Čaputová, and a mountainous North that seems to be evolving towards a kind of Ukrainian model (we shall return to this below): the SMER, in its own strongholds, must content itself with less than half of Čaputová’s score, due to the competition of the pro-Russian Harabin and the neo-fascist Kotleba (whose scores, if added one to another, almost equal that of the SMER candidate). These reasons to rejoice are therefore bad reasons: the weakening of the neighbouring post-Trianon states tends at present mainly to transform their contiguous, largely Hungarian-speaking areas into Euro-globalist strongholds as hostile to FIDESZ’s Hungary as to the nationalists forces of the ethnic majorities within each country; at the same time, this “spiritual secession” of the inner-Carpathian margins leaves the still imaginary “Great Hungary” surrounded by areas of instability jeopardizing the regional balance. Just imagine Romania in 2020, led by president Laura Kövesi massively elected by a predominantly Transylvanian electorate (while the Moldovan and Oltenian regions would stay true to the PSD), and with a parliament where, on the Hungarian side, only the Szekler counties would still have an ethnic representation. In the “Viktor Orbán’s worst nightmares” category, the score of such a scenario is a priori quite high, and interethnic peace in the region wouldn’t be better off either.

The divergent fates of the Slovak SMER and the Romanian PSD (two rather similar governing parties) also call for comment. While in Romania pro-Russian circles comparable to Slovakia’s Harabin and the nostalgic of the pre-war regimes comparable to Kotleba rather tend

  • to stand together in some kind of constructive opposition, rather favourable to the Dragnea line within the PSD (though the latter makes them few concessions other than rhetoric) and
  • to be confined to social networks (having no truly representative party, and having just lost control of România Liberă, the only daily newspaper that has supported them since last summer),

in northern Slovakia, we are rather witnessing some kind of “Ukrainian” scenario: the SMER, a “party of doers” without ideology, comparable to the Poroshenko Block in neighbouring Ukraine, seems to be caught between the anvil of the pro-Russian Harabin and the hammer of the neo-fascist Kotleba, apparently incompatible both with each other and with the SMER.

To explain this divergence, one can certainly evoke the language barrier, which makes Russian influence – despite a common religion – less sensitive south of the Prut river than in (partly or totally) Slavic-speaking countries. One is also, once again, struck by the persistence of deep cultural tendencies: a Byzantine culture of consensus in Romania, as compared to the central and northern Slavs’ propension towards division and conflict. But – if one thinks of the action of networks less visible and less oriental than the Russian press – one can also wonder if this Pax Valahica is not also the reward of a more perfect alignment of Bucharest on … Washington.