Green Political
Development in the former East – A Case Study

 

by Andrea Záhumenská, Slovakian Green Party

What was the coalition of the
Slovak Greens – Smer- Social Democracy like in the elections held for the
European Parliament

Prior to the elections for the European Parliament, the Slovak Green
Party decided that due to
Andrea Zahumenska its position on the political scene (being absent
from both the governing coalition and the opposition in the Slovak Parliament
which is the highest legislative body in Slovakia, although it was represented
on a regional level), and after analyzing the ideological orientation of
various political parties active on the political scene, they would try to find a political partner which
would be suitable for the European Parliament elections.

The European Greens had been preparing themselves for several months, launching
a common campaign on the European level, but prior to launching the campaign it
was certain that forming a domestic political alliance was more then a
necessity considering the conditions of the Slovak political scene. There were
a number of reasons for this “necessity.” It is necessary to say openly that a
serious argument in favour of this alliance was a financial reason. Finally as
the elections results to the European Parliament showed, nobody from the Green
Party in any of the new Member States of the European Union got elected to the
European Parliament. There was a quite simple reason – the existing financial
situation had not created conditions for winning recognition and putting their
views more aggressively on the highest political scene in any of these
countries.

The choice for a Green alliance was preceded by an analysis of the
strongest political parties in the Slovak political scene:

The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia - a nondescript political party in Europe and therefore unable to push Slovak interests
abroad

The Slovak
Democratic and Christian Union
-
a right – wing political party

The Christian
Democratic Movement
- in
many policies this party does not have progressive ideas, and in many cases
their ideas are contrary with the progress of this century

New Citizen’s Alliance
- exclusively liberal politics without any social component, in Europe it represents a weak minority

The Communist Party - there is no prospect in the European area

Smer – Social
Democracy
- a combination of
the market economy with welfare aspects, integrated to the second strongest
political group in the EU Parliament

It became obvious that the partnership between Smer – Social Democracy
and the Slovak Greens in the respective elections was the only political
configuration. Other slates were represented by figures of authority, but these
were apolitical and were not members of any political party.

A need for forming the
above mentioned-alliance resulted also from European politics being very
abstract and uninteresting in the eyes of the Slovak voters. The voters were
also tired of political propaganda (presidential elections, referendum) and
because of all these reasons, a very low turnout was expected in the respective
elections. The Greens needed a partner that was also strong from the point of
view of its popularity with people in the long term. Smer - Social Democracy
could meet these criteria and their popularity is growing and they are one of the top of political parties
and have the highest preferences among
Slovak people for the longest period.

Smer - Social Democracy as a political party was established in December
1999 and it became established in the Slovak political scene quickly. In the
long term, Smer- Social Democracy’s election ratings vary between 17 – 20%. The
members and supporters of Smer – Social Democracy are people with high-school
and university education. It is a group of people who also support a healthy
environment, as various surveys showed. In addition to this, the combination of
the market economy with welfare aspects of the society appealed to the Greens,
too. In comparison with other parties, the programme of Smer – Social Democracy
was the closest to the concepts of the Greens, as well as from the view of its
ideological orientation in the elections to the European Parliament.

On the other side, it’s an illusion to assume that both political
parties share the same opinions on all aspects of politics. Therefore, the
Greens decided that cooperation between both parties during the campaign in the
elections to the European Parliament would be taken into consideration only on
the condition that, in case of a
difference of opinion, the Greens would openly declare and defend only their Green
position in front of their voters. Smer
– Social Democracy accepted this condition and it was consequently included
into the contract. The Greens ensured their independence and saved their face
in front of their voters in the elections to the European Parliament through
the fact that within the declared alliance they were represented by their own
logo as well as by logo of the European Green Party. The respective contract
declared that the Greens’ programme would come from the European Green Party’s
programme manifesto. In addition to this, even the European Green Party’s
common campaign was not touched by the contract.

It is necessary to say openly that for Smer – Social Democracy, the
above mentioned declared conditions of the Greens were acceptable also in
relation to its own presentation in front of its voters. As a result of this,
the party presented that its politics is open, democratic as well as able to
accept different opinions that, on the other side, do not always identify with
someone’s opinion automatically. In the final effect, it was the voter who
considered carefully which attitude is more acceptable. In comparison with
other kinds of coalitions on the Slovak political scene in the past, this kind
of cooperation avoided quarreling, and it was a simple demonstration of how to
offer an expert presentation and let the public make a judgement. The Slovak
voters accepted this very positively and even with a certain extent of
surprise, since it is not always possible to keep the balance between giving someone’s
opinion and respecting human dignity on the Slovak political scene. The Slovak
voters appreciated that by means of this alliance both political parties did
not lose their identity and face.

On the other side, the question arises as to whether this kind of
cooperation could work without difficulties in a long-term alliance, since
give-and-take and concessions had undoubtedly to be made. In this case, both
political parties were aware of the fact that they could only have gained from
that alliance.

The Slovak Greens highly appreciated Smer – Social Democratic
preparation for the respective elections. Thanks to their election analyses and
surveys conducted among potential voters prior to the elections, the Greens got
a picture of what people actually were interested in during the campaign and
why they might have been interested in the elections themselves. At that time,
the prognoses within the EU indicated that, generally, the particular member
states of the EU should not have relied on a high turnout in the elections.

The analyses conducted by Smer – Social Democracy prior to the elections
showed that the Slovak voters expected discussions mostly about these themes:

1/ Generating new job
opportunities both in Europe and Slovakia – 70.3%

2/ Generating
conditions for drawing money from EU funds – 60.1 %

3/ Regional politics –
aid aimed at economically undeveloped regions – 42.2 %

4/ Social politics – social Europe –
41.5%

5/ Conditions of the
Slovak farmers and agriculturalists with the new European Union membership –
27.8 %

6/ Energy self-
sufficiency – 17.1 %

7/ Reinforcement of
the EU’s foreign policies – 12.9%

8/ Stop enlarging the
EU competences (areas of responsibility) – 10.3 %

For the Slovak voters, these criteria determined the results in the
elections of Slovak members to the European parliament:

1/ Whether these
candidates have the best qualifications – 69.9%

2/ Expert preparedness
and good command of languages – 67%

3/ Scope of activities
of a political party that designated candidates – 21%

4/ Euro-programmes of
particular political parties – 20%

As for the themes that appealed to voters most, Smer-Social Democracy
and the Greens had, apart from the point 6 related to energy self-sufficiency,
common attitudes during the campaign and there weren’t any moments of friction
between them.

It is interesting that the point 6 regardless of the respective campaign
was a hot issue on the Slovak political scene for a longer period of time.
Concretely, the hot issue was related to the question of the further existence
of the 3rd and 4th block of the nuclear power plant in
Mochovce and its operation.

The Greens’ attitude was clear – not to accept any reconstruction of
nuclear reactors by reason of not being able to guarantee adequate safety
standards, and further, the necessity of closing the reactors down on the basis
of energy effectiveness and natural protection programmes. This position
conflicted with the Smer – Social Democracy’s position during the campaign.

According to Smer – Social Democracy, the nuclear power industry is
necessary for Slovakia.
The aim of this political party has been the competitive power industry,
recognized both in Slovakia
and abroad. Such competitive power industry should provide short-term and
long-term, effective and stable energy supplies to people from all social
strata of the society while respecting externalities and national
self-sufficiency. In their opinion, nuclear energy is a proper opportunity to
fulfill this vision both at present and in the future, mostly in the area of
electrical energy. According to Smer, nuclear energy is economical, there is
enough fuel in the world for a long time with the possibility of
diversification of its supplies and long-term storage. It provides a big output
from a small area as well as providing work with high added value. Nuclear
energy is also the source of new expert knowledge and it is friendly towards
the environment, in their opinion. Smer-Social Democracy admitted quite openly
that it is aware of the issue of treating the radioactive waste and the
possibility of misusing the waste for other than the peaceful purposes, and
also it is sophisticated technology, which makes people worry. In case of the Slovak Republic,
which does not have sufficient cheap primary energy sources, Smer believes that
the positive aspects of the nuclear power industry exceed the negative ones.

The alternatives to the nuclear power industry that are worth taking
into consideration are for example: fossil fuels and renewable sources of
energy as wind, solar power, biomass, geothermal energy.

According to Smer
– Social Democracy, fossil fuels are not a real alternative because they
produce large amounts of emissions and they are not economical for large-scale
electrical energy. In the party’s opinion, Slovakia cannot fully rely on
renewable sources because there is no additional potential for new
development of “big water” (large-scale
dams) and the potential of economically effective “small water” and wind
presents the only possible supplement to the overall economical need of nuclear
energy. Moreover, these sources need a back-up power supply in case of fuel
failure and besides “small water” they pose a striking intervention to the
environment. In Smer – Social Democracy’s opinion, solar power is not
economical in Slovak climatic conditions. Geothermal energy has the potential
for development but as with “small water,” it’s only a supplementary source due
to its energy parameters and its localization. Biomass has the potential for
development, but it’s limited and it produces emissions of the carbon dioxide
and in order to be economical it needs to work in the system of ,,cogeneration”
that means to locate next to produced heat.

Conclusion of Smer –
Social Democracy

Nuclear energy has an irreplaceable role in the energic mix of the Slovak Republic.
Regarding the facts mentioned above, Smer – Social Democracy is interested in
developing and improving the nuclear power infrastructure of the country,
including research and evolution, and in this sense, it is interested in
participating in the international cooperation within the regional, European
and worldwide activities.

How to summarize the alliance between Smer- Social Democrats and the
Green Party in Slovakia?

For Slovaks, the elections for the European Parliament were the first
election to this EU institution. They were the first elections in which the
alliance of Smer – Social Democracy with the Slovak Green Party was presented
to the public in Slovakia
(prior to the election, this kind of cooperation hadn’t existed). After
evaluating the course of the elections, we can say for sure that none of these
parties “suffered a loss” in any sense.

It is true that currently the Greens do not have their representative in
the EU Parliament. However, the Greens raised their credit with the voters
without a doubt. The election result indicates that the Green Party’s candidate
(the author) ended in the 5th place in relation to the number of
received preferential votes within the Smer’s slate, right behind figures of
authority which have been known to the public for a long time and who also had
strong financial background (which is one of the strongest factors in
campaigns).

The Green success
can be also perceived by the effort to make their politics public, to promote
the existence of “the European Green colour” with the reference to its
significant role in the future. The European Green Party as the only organized
party of the national Greens within the European context presents a special
feature connecting the Green national political parties. This feature hasn’t
been present in other parties so far.

The campaign was
beneficial also for the reason that the Slovak voter realized that the Green
colour stopped presenting only environmental protection a long time ago, but
its representatives have been very active in other policies in our society.
Until recently, the Slovak voter had a fixed opinion that the only interests of
the Greens were environmental issues. A voter has always been mainly interested
in whether the society is able to create appropriate conditions of dignified
life for him, which means creating sufficient number of job opportunities,
welfare protection, education, pension payments in his old age and more. In the
elections to the EU Parliament, the Slovak voter had a chance to see by means
of this alliance that it’s more than a necessity for political parties to find
the balance between the economic and environmental requirements of our era
despite their different political programmes. It was the advantage of this
partnership that during the campaign, both political parties could have also
presented the existance of cooperation of two political fractions in the EU
Parliament (the Socialists – the Greens). Smer – Social Democracy and the
Slovak Green party state openly that they belong to these political fractions,
it is visible while submitting and adopting a number of legislative drafts in
the EU Parliament. From this point of view, the Slovak voter saw that currently
it has been a normal phenomenon that national political programmes exceed the
state borders and identify with other ones within the European context.

The first Slovak election held for the EU Parliament are now a past
event, but their results in the form of work performed by our representatives
in the EU Parliament are presented every day. The Greens do not have Slovak
representative in this EU institution, but perhaps these first elections were
the starting point for the Green career in the next election term in 2009 –
2014.

 


Summary voting results for the Slovak Republic

Number of persons registered in list of voters
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.4 210 463

Number
of voters to whom envelopes were distributed ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 714 508

Number of returned envelopes,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,713
308

Total number of valid
votes,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,701
595

Voter turnout in elections in
%,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,16,96%

The political parties who obtained mandate
in the European Parliament elections:

The Christian Democratic Movement – 3
mandates

The Slovak Democratic and Christian Union –
3 mandates

Smer – Social Democracy – 3 mandates

Public party –
Movement for Democratic Slovakia – 3
mandates

Party of Hungarian Coalition – 2
mandates

The Act of the Slovak Republic on European
Parliamentary Elections of 10th July 2003
No. 331/2003 in the Collection of Laws
as amended by Act No.515/2003 Coll. states conditions under which the
follow is regulated as:

Voting- direct – in person / the use of
a proxy was not allowed / , general
and guaranteed secrecy of voting / an elector
with ballot papers had to go to a polling booth to mark them /.

Electoral
franchise

A person shall be
entitled to vote in the elections if he
was a citizen of the Slovak Republic who was at least eighteen years old
on polling day and had permanent residence in either the Slovak Republic , or
if he was a citizen of another Member State of the European Union who was
at least eighteen years old on polling day and had permission to reside
permanently in the Slovak Republic.

A citizen of the
Slovak Republic who was at least eighteen years old on polling day and who did
not have permanent residence in either the Slovak Republic or another Member
States of the European Union shall be entitled to vote in the elections if he
was in Slovak Republic on polling day.

Timing of the elections

The Chairperson of the National Council of the Slovak Republic callled the
elections and set their date on the basis of a decision of the Council of
the European Union not later than ninety days before they were conducted.

The elections in
the whole of the Slovak Republic were conducted on one day, a Sunday.

Electoral territory

For the purpose of
the elections, the Slovak Republic constituted a single electoral
territiry, from where 14 MEPs were elected.

Polling districts

For the casting
and counting of votes, polling districts were formed in municipalities, cities,
and boroughs of the capital city Bratislava and the city Kosice. A polling
district included approximately one thousand electors.

The following
electoral bodies were established for the elections:

a/ a Central Electoral Committee,

b/ district
electoral committees,

c/ polling
district committees.

Lists of candidates, polling, establishing election results

The list of candidates of a political
party, registered pursuant to a special law, was delivered to the electoral
officer of the Central Electoral Committee not later than sixty-five before
polling day.

Political parties
could agree to submit a joint list of candidate and to form
a coalition. The relevant political party was obliged to submit
confirmation that the election deposit of 50,000 Slovak crowns had been paid
(approximately US$1600).

A political
party could put on its list of candidates only a member of the party or someone
who is politically non-affiliated. A coalition could put up as
a candidate only a member of a party of the coalition or someone
who is politically non-affiliated.

A political
party or coalition could not include more than fourteen candidates on its list
of candidates.

List of candidates
which comply with the above mentioned
Act including lists rectified were registered by the Central Electoral
Committee not later than forty-five days before polling day. Registration was
a precondition for the production of ballot papers.

Numbering list of candidates

The list of candidates of
each political party or coalition was
assigned a number by the Central Electoral Committee through
a drawing of lots.This took place no later than forty days before polling
day.

A ballot
papers

A ballot paper was produced for each
political party or coalition whose list of candidates was registered.

The Interior
Ministry sent the ballot papers to municipal mayors who had to ensure their
delivery to polling district committees not later than polling day.

Broadcasting of
political advertisements began twenty-one days before polling day. For forty-eight hours before the start of polling
and on polling day, political advertisement was forbidden.

Method of voting

After proving voter‘s identity, voter received the
envelope and went to the polling booth.
At the polling booth he had to place in the envelope one ballot paper.
On the ballot paper which he placed in the envelope he could circle the number
of not more than one candidate to indicate to which candidate he gave
preference. Voter after leaving the polling booth placed the envelope into the
ballot box in front of the polling district committee.

Conditions for allocating seats

The Central Electoral Committee established the total
number of valid votes cast for each political party of coalition.

The
Central Electoral Committee established which political parties or
coalitions obtained at least five percent of the total number of valid votes.
Where a political party or coalition gained less than five percent of the
valid votes, the valid votes which it gained were not considered in the
subsequent establishing of the election results and the allocation of
seats.

Allocation of seats

The total number of valid votes gained by
a political party or coalition that has advanced into the subseqent count
pursuant was divided by fifteen, the number of seats plus one. The resulting number rounded off to
a whole number represented the republic electoral number.

The total number
of valid votes gained by a political party or coalition was divided by the
republic electoral number, and the political party or coalition and allocated
a number of seats equal to the number of times the republic electoral
number divided into its sum of valid votes.

Where this method
results in the allocation of one seat more than should be allocated, the
surplus seat was deducted from the political party or coalition which had the
smallest remainder after the division of its total votes by the republic
electoral number. Where the remainders were equal, the seat was deducted from the
political party or coaliton that gained the fewer votes. Where the number of
votes was the same, the deduction was decided by a drawing of lots.

Where this method
resulted with not all seats being allocated, or where a political party or
coalition did not have enough candidates for the seats it had been allocated ,
the Central Electoral Committee allocated such seats to the political party or
coalition that gained the most votes. Where the number of votes was the same,
the allocation was decided by a drawing of lots.

Candidates
received the seats allocated to a political party or coalition on the
basis of their position on the list of candidates of the political party or
coalition, where at least one-tenth of the total number of electors who casted
a valid vote for the political party or coalition used the right to cast
a preferential votes totalling at least ten percent of the total number of
valid votes. In the event that a political party or coalition was
allocated more seats and had more candidates received seats on the basis of
their number of preferential votes. In the event that candidates had the same
number of preferential votes, they received seats on the basis of their
position on the list of candidates. Candidates who did not receive a seat became
substitutes.

The Central
Electoral Committee, after allocating seats, produced a record of the
election result.