Andrej Školkay, Veronika Vass-Vigh, Martin Laczko and Viera Žúborová
School of Communication and Media Bratislava, Slovakia
This national report aimed to find out how selected Slovak political parties perceive their populist and non-populist competitors, espesially how they react and compete with populists and their political campaigns in the political competition. Through semi-structured interviews with high ranking members of the political parties, we learned their attitudes, opinions, insights and experiences regarding the confrontation with populism. Our questions were answered by Peter Kmec, a member of the National Assembly (Partliament) and a member of the presidency of the Hlas-SD (Voice-Social Democracy) party; Branislav Tichý, Secretary-General of the non-parliamentary movement Progressive Slovakia; Milan Kabina, a member of the presidency of the non-parliamentary Christian Democratic Movement (KDH); and Ábel Ravasz (then) a member of the presidency of the non-parliamentary Most-Híd (The Bridge) party.
The political (analytical-conceptual) context: non-populist vs. populist parties in 2018-2021
It is usually controversial and certainly normative to lable a party as populist or non-populist in Slovakia. Sometimes, political parties mutually call each other populist while they see themselves as being non-populist. However, occasionally there is an agreement which party they define as populist. For example, all of the interviewed high ranked members of non-populist parties in our sample mentioned OĽaNO (Ordinary People and Independent Personalities) as a populist political party/movement at the national and European level.
Curiously, Meyer’s 2021 report suggested (p.8) that there was only a single case of populists in power in Europe in early 2021, namely in Poland. Interestingly, Sme rodina (We are a Family) was seen as more populist than OĽaNO among experts involved in this study. Maybe this has to do with the time frame – while political parties represented were asked in spring of 2021, the report was written in the fall of 2021.