The Viability Gap

One more brief post on an issue separate from (but perhaps closely related to) the question of populism and its routinization.  As graphs of party support show (xxx), Slovakia’s party scene has divided itself into three distinct groupings when measured in terms of popular support:  Smer, in a league by itself; a cluster around 10% and another cluster around 2%.  The last several months have seen the largest difference between the smallest viable party and the largest non-viable party in a very long time, as this graph shows (see a bigger version here):

Measured in raw terms, the average gap has risen significantly in the past five years:

The actual gap for September 2007 was 7.8, (between KDH’s 9.6 and HZD’s 1.7) the highest for which I have records.  An astonishing 95.9% of UVVM poll respondents preferred an electorally viable party whereas as recently as 2002 this number hovered between 80% and 90%. 

I cannot easily assess what this means for the future because I do not have corresponding data for the strength of individuals’ party support and their willingess to change, but for the moment Slovak voters seem to have consolidated their choices around six options.  The current small parties–KSS, HZD, ANO and SF–may find this an insurmountable barrier; if another party is to cross the 5% line, it is likely to be an altogether new party, but I suspect that will depend on internal politics within the current viable parties, particularly Smer.

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