Life imitates Onion (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love AC/DC)

First there was the monument to Bon Scott (among other ‘died young’ rockers) in Samorin, Slovakia (  Now we find an even more astounding tribute: “AC/DC Inspired Czech Leader’s “Road to Hell” Riff” (  It is hard to say which part of this story would have been more astounding in, say, March 1989: that the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic attended an AC/DC concert or that AC/DC was still touring.

Regardless, it is tempting to follow the lead of Scott Brown of “Springtime for Dubcek” ( and speculate about other songs that Topolanek might have used with regard to administration policies:

  • Money Talks
  • Nervous Shakedown
  • Back in [the] Black

In general the list applies better to the Clinton adminstration.  Alas, Vaclav Klaus does not appear to have attended any in the mid-1990’s AC/DC concerts.

Presidential Election, First Round

Although the results were closer than almost anyone expected, the polls were not wildly off: only by a matter of 5-6% points and much less for the major candidates.  The closeness makes the second round interesting, though it’s much harder to see Radicova gaining 12 than Gasparovic gaining 5.

If the same voters were to turn out, it would be easy to make predictions, since we can guess fairly well about the 2nd choice preferences of voters for Martinakova, Bollova and Sidor.  For Miklosko and Melnik it is different (for related reasons):

  • Miklosko’s KDH fought bitterly with HZDS during the period when Gasparovic was the party’s chair of parliament and even though Miklosko will not back Radicova, many of his supporters may be willing to do so.  We shall see here whether past conflicts now rendered largely meaningless (ex-KDH v. ex-HZDS) will trump potentially emerging present conflicts over genuinely ideological questions (without looking more closely at the data, I would guess that Miklosko supporters are more similar to Gasparovic voters (culturally conservative, economically mixed) than to Radicova voters (economically mixed, culturally liberal).
  • Melnik’s HZDS fought bitterly after 2002 against Gasparovic and did so again in this campaign.  Here we shall see whether a current party conflict (Meciar v. Gasparovic) is stronger than a simultaneous ideological conflict (Melnik’s voters would unreservedly prefer somebody like Gasparovic over Radicova if it were not for the party ties.)  In this case I suspect ideology wins out and most Melnik voters go to Gasparovic.

This rough guess would produce something like the following.  Radicova gains more than Gasparovic but not enough to win:

Total 1st Round Share to Gasparovic in 2nd round Share to Radicova in 2nd round Total for Gasparovic Total for Radicova

Of course the same voters will not necessarily turn out and so if Radicova hopes to win, she will need a much bigger turnout in areas of her strength.  This might not actually be as hard as it seems since many of the areas of her greatest strength (particularly in the south) were in areas with rather low turnout, particularly along the country’s southern border.  Hungarians, it would appear from this aggregate data, may have supported Radicova at much higher than average levels but may have turned out in lower than average levels.  If this is true and if Radicova could mobilize Hungarian voter simply to turn out at average levels, she could come very close to Gasparovic’s totals :


In the meantime, the daily papers have some reasonably good reportage (see: for articles I’ve tagged) and the Stasticky Urad has some other nice graphs and charts (see  For ease of comparision I’ve included some of the more interesting ones below.

Gasparovic’s regional totals:
Gasparovic Totals

Radicova’s  regional totals:


Miklosko’s regional totals:

Regions “won” by Gasparovic versus those “won” by Radicova

Gasparovic v. Radicova

Money in Politics

As far as I can tell there are no odds markets like, for Slovakia’s politics, but there are more traditional bookies that sometimes deal in politics.  In 2006 Tipos ( dabbled in parliamentary odds, but did a rather poor job such that straight betting on the poll averages allowed would-be-bettors to make money (  Now Nike ( has entered the fray with a presidential option.  This is probably a no-brainer since the election outcome is unlikely to change from current polls putting Gasparovic ahead, and betting on him at 1.2:1 would probably yield less than the transaction costs.  Still, I’ll try to follow these numbers and see if they change on a daily basis.  Here are the current odds:

Gasparovic, 1.2:1
Radicova, 3.5:1
Martinakova, 100:1
Miklosko, 120:1
Melnik, 800:1
Bollova, 900:1
Sidor: 1000:1

What makes the difference between Melnik’s 800 and Sidor’s 1000 is a curiosity, but I suppose if everybody other than Radicova was 500:1 it wouldn’t seem very interesting for the bettors.

2009 Presidential Election, First week of March

 I should probably post something on the presidential election campaign in Slovakia, though there is not much to say, both because the race has been extremely stable and because I simply have not been able to find much polling.  FOCUS has not yet offered numbers and UVVM only started this month (as far as I can tell) and so we’ve only got irregularly and incompletely reported numbers from MVK.  Still, that is something.  The race as we know it appears below.  Gasparovic has consistently led the field, hovering around 50% in every poll except a very early one in 2007 that included likely competitors from the Slovak national bloc (Meciar and Slota).  Radicova, by contrast has hovered around 35% (except in that first poll at a time when she had less name recognition).  Other candidates have gone and come, but Martinakova of Slobodne Forum appears to have a solid 5% and Miklosko of KDS just a bit less.  At the bottom comes the trio of Bollova (former KSS), Sidor (KSS) and Melnik (HZDS) with 2% or less.

Poll results for Presidential Candidates, Full Field, in Slovakia, 2009

Comparing these candidates with their party results is not always easy or useful but it does lend certain insight into the underlying dynamics of the country’s politics.  Gasparovic has polled 50% when his own former party HZD has languished below 2%. Clearly Gasparovic gains most of his support from Smer and SNS (though he slightly underpolls the combined strength of those two parties).  Gasparovic may also gain some support from voters of his previous former party, HZDS.  This is mitigated to some degree by HZDS chair Vladimir Meciar’s idiosyncratic campaign against Gasparovic, whom he regards as a traitor to his party, but while this campaign may cost Gasparovic some votes, it certainly has not been successful in luring voters to HZDS’s own candidate, Melnik, who stands at 2%, less than a third of HZDS’s 6% (and it shows HZDS’s continued decline).  Bollova and Sidor together attract more votes than KSS, but only by about a half of a percentage point, so it does not seem that these alternatives on the statist left draw many voters away from Gasparovic.

Perhaps the most interesting question is on the right.  The parties of the right (including the Hungarians) consistently poll about 35%, about equal to Radicova’s total, but Radicova likely shares the vote of that bloc with Martinakova and Miklosko who together poll around 10%.  This means that either Radicova or the other two (or all three) pull some voters from uncommitted voters.  Martinakova outpolls her party by about 3-4%) and Miklosko’s party has only about 1% in the polls, so virtually all of his vote comes from partisans of other parties.  It is difficult without the actual data to assess the ebb and flow here, but it would appear that the presidential candidates of the right-wing parties are, by a solid margin, more popular than the parties themselves, and this suggests some room for growth on the right side of the political spectrum (but only if those parties were to seek out new leadership, something that KDH and SMK–but not SDKU–may currently be thinking about).

The potential gain becomes most obvious in those polls that pit Gasparovic directly against Radicova.  In these, surveys (of which we have only two, both conducted by MVK) Radicova draws closer to Gasparovic, gaining an average of 8% compared to Gasparovic’s gain of 5%.  This is to be expected since the candidates closer to Radicova (Martinakova and Miklosko) have more support than those closer to Gasparovic (Bollova, Sidor, Melnik), but it is still noteworthy since it suggests that a moderately charismatic candidate of the right can gain significantly larger numbers of voters than do the parties of the right.

Poll results for Presidential Candidates, Top Two, in Slovakia, 2009