Party Preferences and Trends: KSS’s Tightrope Walk

In the coming days, I will look at polling results for each
party with an eye to trends in indivdual series of polls and composite polling
averages for each month.   This analysis will stay at what I will
call "level 1," which is the compilation and assessment of polling
numbers, and only rarely moving to  "level 2," which is the
assessment of how polling numbers might translate into actual votes and seats,
and no attention to "level 3," which is the assessment of how seats
might translate into an actual government.  These will be the subject of
other posts.

I start with perhaps the most interesting and consequential of all election
questions: whether KSS will gain enough votes to pass the 5% threshold for

KSS poll results are tantalizing and in themselves offer no
clear answer about whether the party will pass the 5% threshold. This uncertainty is reflected in current
betting line on Tipos ( )
which gives identical odds for KSS’s success and failure.


The betting line here seems well
calculated. As the first graph shows, the
average of poll results for each month has remained within 0.5 percentage
points for all of 2006, though individual polls show the party as much as 2
percentage points above or below. Nor do
those polls show consistent patterns. Within 2006 alone, every major polling series except Dicio has shown KSS
to be above the threshold in some months and at or below the threshold in at
least one another month. (Within this
variation, Dicio and UVVM produce results that are consistently below the
others for the last twelve months. Over
the last three years results for KSS were lowest on surveys by Median and UVVM
while FOCUS and MVK showed higher-than-average KSS results.)  As the graph below shows, even trendlines are
mixed, with otherwise quite different 1-month and 12-month trend lines both suggesting
a result above the 5% threshold, and almost identical 3-month, 6-month trendlines
suggesting a 4.5% result.


This inconsistency itself may have some effect on the vote
since voters who are uncertain of a party’s viability may opt for an
alternative.  This is especially
important since Smer’s adoption of a more clearly “social democratic” name and
platform might make Smer a slightly more palatable alternative for worried KSS
voters than it had been in the past. In
fact comparisons with 2002, while limited in their applicability suggest that the
KSS voters were more ambivalent about Smer in 2002 (the ratio of positives to
negatives averaged 56:44 with a declining trend as the election neared) than
they have been in 2005-2006 (the ratio of positives to negatives in recent IVO
surveys shows a much higher and rising trend, from 61:34 in November 2005 to 71:27
in April 2006).  

Figures from 2002 also suggest that while KSS voters were
less likely than major-party voters to shun a party that was not viable, they too
were not entirely immune to considerations of viability (in May 2002 nearly 100%
of KSS voters agreed that “One should vote according to his/her convictions,
and not by the party’s size” but at the same time nearly 70% of KSS voters
acknowledged that “It make no sense to vote small parties, because this would
mean just a waste of the votes” (the same share as the in the overall

With half of all recent polls showing KSS below the
threshold, and headlines like Pravda’s June 1, “KSS
would not get into parliament
,” enough KSS voters may become sufficiently
discouraged to push the party’s numbers down further.  The available information suggests a slight
presumption against KSS in parliament
but there simply is not enough data to make a firm assessment. 

Whether KSS succeeds or not may have a fundamental affect on
the composition of Slovakia’s next government, not because there is much chance
that KSS will be in the government (too many parties have categorically
rejected cooperation with KSS) but because the redistribution of seats that
might otherwise have gone to KSS will enlarge the totals of all other parties
and increase the chances that Smer could drastically reduce its negotiation
costs and form a coalition with only one other party.  Indeed if recent trouble in SF pushes that
party below the 5% threshold, a two-party government led by Smer is almost

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