>Pasta and populism – the Czech and Slovak elections

> At yesterday’s SSEES roundtable on the Czech and Slovak elections Tim Haughton and I strut ted our stuff discussing the electoral politics of the two countries’ elections in June. Karen Henderson then rounds up with a discussion of parallels and underlying issues. Alas, even with exciting developments in Slovakia, we don’t do big box office. There simply isn’t the same audience for Czech and Slovak politics

The same blocs of populist, urban-liberal and free markets can be detected across the two cases despite Slovak’s more regionally complex pattern and crosscutting cleavages. Corruption is an issue, but also a weapon and a source of mud to sling and the reality is hard to disntinguish from the hype. Corruption and clientelism are notoriously hard to measure directly, however, but we tend to agee that we are talking about something slightly different from murky world of post-Soviet ‘political technology’ and ‘virtual parties’

Mainstream catch all parties. Karen noted, allying with extremists are damned if they do (Robert Fico’s embrace of Slovak nationalists, the Kaczynskis’ link-up with Catholic ultras and rampant rural populists ) and damned if they don’t (the Czech Social Democrats’ keeping the Communists at friendly arms length for the sake of anti-communist political correctness – de rigeur for all mainstream Czech parties).

Over pasta and red wine academic attendees talked round a few more issues in Central European politics. Slovenia, it seems, like the Czech Republic also has a civil partnership law, – interesting given it is c Catholic country, although very much fitting in with received wisdom about Slovene liberal democratic culture. The Czechs are notionally Catholic by a large majority too, of course. Access to IVF, we are told, for single women is, however, a big issue divisive moral issue in Slovenia. And yes, someone really should do a mind numbingly detailed study Central European party clientelism in a single ministry, agency, district or whatever… PhD there for someone.

This being an Italian restaurent the waitress is, of course…. Slovak. She doesn’t give us give her view on populism, the left or Robert Fico, however.

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