Slovakia’s Presidential Election: Wrapping it up

Clear victory for Kiska.  Not much else to say at the moment.  Good analysis on STV so I turn it over to them.  Tomorrow I’ll try to look at shifts in support between the two elections to give us a sense of what this means for coalition patterns. 

As in the past, it seems to be the new voters, those turned off by both major “sides” who seem to hold the key.  We have seen non-left/national governments only when there has been a new and quasi-independent force.  Schuster in 1999, Kiska now, SDK with SDL in 1998, SDKU with ANO in 2002, SDKU with SaS in 2010.  In 2012 the right was too damaged by the Gorilla scandals and infighting to take advantage of OLaNO) Whenever you have straight left against straight right without the middle, the different, the straight left/national seems to have the advantage: Smer in 2006, Gasparovic in 2010.  If it had been Fico v. Prochazka would we have seen the same spread? or even the same Fico loss?  Fewer voters would have turned out for the Prochazka (many Kiska voters would likely have stayed home) and more voters would have turned out for Fico, lest Prochazka win (in Fico v. Kiska election the loss wasn’t /that/ great).   Would that have covered a 19 point spread?  Somebody please invent a time machine or a portal to the multiverse so we can find out.

We’ll see tomorrow what the regional results look like. 

Time for bed for Slovaks, but not for me.  I’m off to a play put on by my school district’s amazing music program.

Slovakia’s Presidential Election Second Round: Awaiting Results

Polls are just closing now and we shall see what we shall see.

The only thing to pay attention to at the earliest moments is that according to the minute-by-minute returns from the first round (thanks to–somebody has been paying attention to details––Fico’s results at the first five minute point slightly exceeded his final totals (30% to 28%).  Kiska’s were also higher but only slightly (25% to 24%), and those of the losing center-right candidates (Prochazka, Knazko) were slightly lower.  If Kiska picks up some of those right-wing voters, even half, his numbers should stay roughly the same over time, while Fico’s will likely follow the declining pattern.  If, therefore, Kiska is less than 1.5% behind in the first 5 minutes, he is the likely winner.

It is also notable, for those who care, that turnout was slightly lower at the smaller precincts that hand in their results early, so total turnout may end up higher than we see at first glance.

Slovakia Presidential Elections: Morning-After Thoughts on Results

A few quick supplementary thoughts:

  • What can we expect in the second round?  I’ll try to avoid speculating on the nature of the campaigning except to say that I suspect all gloves are off.  What I am more interested in is the nature of the shifts in voters between this round and the next. 
    • If we assume that both Fico and Kiska votes who turned out yesterday will turn out again, that gives us 530k votes for Fico and 455k votes for Kiska, a difference of 75k votes. 
    • But of course we have to look at other voters.  Some of those are voters who did not vote in the first round.  Between the first round and the second round in the 2009 election, turnout rose from 1890k to 2240k, an increase of 350k I would guess that we could assume a similar increase this time.  

      Turnout for various elections in Slovakia, 1990 to the present. Note that turnout in every election category has stabilized since 2005. In the 2009 presidential election, first round turnout was just over 43% and second round turnout was 55%. In the 2014 presidential election, first round turnout was also just over 43%

    • We also have to look at what happens to those who participated in the election but voted for candidates other than Fico and Kiska now have the option to vote for the candidate closest to them or to stay home. 

      • The voters for candidates who were in clear opposition to Fico (and who more or less agreed to encourage their voters to support the not-Fico candidate) actually total about 850k, divided among 400k (Prochazka, formerly KDH) + 240k (Knazko, formerly DU, SDKU) + 100k (Bardos, SMK) + 60k (Hrusovsky, KDH, a surprisingly small share perhaps showing the strains within KDH between old and new guards), + 40k (Mezenska, OLaNO) + 10k (Carnogursky, formerly KDH, a not surprising but rather humiliating total).

      •  The voters for candidates with more pro-Fico or overall less readable voter profiles total about 45k: 12k (Jurista, KSS), 10k (Fischer, formerly HZDS, but also ZZ), 9k (Behyl, apparently formerly Smer), 8k (Melnik, formerly HZDS), 5k (Simko, unclear to me but formerly supported Gasparovic), 3k (Martincko, unclear). 

  • What can we say from these numbers?  Let us make some unrealistic but clarifying assumptions

    • that 1/2 of voters for losing candidates will simply stay home because they no longer care about the outcome if their candidate isn’t in the race,

    • that about 1 in 1o voters of losing candidates will shift across the aisle from an anti-Fico candidate to Fico and from a non-right candidate to Kiska.  This seems odd but in my experience about 1/10 voters do things that seem odd to the outsider but for which they have their own idiosyncratic reasons.

  • This yields the following results:

    • For Fico, 40k from right wing candidates, and 18k from non-right wing candidates;

    • for Kiska, 5k from non-right wing candidates, and 160k from right-wing candidates. 

    • That yields a new balance of 588k for Fico (530k+40k+18k) and 620 for Kiska (455k+160k+5k). 

  • But that depends heavily on the assumptions above.  If, by contrast, only 1/4 of losing candidate voters stay home, the balance is more in Kiska’s favor:

    • 597k for Fico against 700k for Fico. 

  • Of course this does not factor in the new voters who will come into the electorate in a second round.  Between the first and second round in 2009, the vote total rose from 1890k to 2240k.  Assuming a similar increase and given the kinds of dropoff discussed above, this means an influx of about 1 million voters who did not vote the first round.  What can we say about these?

    • If Fico wins those in the same ratio that votes were distributed between him and Kiska (about 7:6 or 1.16:1.00) then he could expect about 80k more than Fico among the new voters, which is enough to beat Kiska if right wing voters stay home at the 1/2 ratio, but not if they stay home only at the 1/4 ratio.  

    • If Fico wins votes only in the same ratio that votes were distributed between him and Kiska plus the right, (about 2:3 or 0.66:1.00, then Fico loses the second round no matter what.   

  • It doesn’t take a political scientist to figure out that the key to the next round will be Fico’s ability to demobilize the right-wing voters who voted in the first round and to prevent any non-voters on the right from turning out in favor of Kiska.  If he does that absolutely perfectly, he can win without any additional turnout on his side, but perfection is unlikely, so he is also going to have to fire up the Smer turnout machine.  For every potential right-wing voter he can’t demobilize (and that number probably ranges from 400k to maybe 800k, he is going to increase his own turnout by the same amount).  This is a party that has pulled in 1.1 million before, and probably had a lot of complacent voters in this last round, so an addition of 400-600k isn’t impossible, but it is going to take a lot more work.  The challenge for Kiska is now going to be getting the full /and active/ support of the right, not only their tacit recommendation but the efforts of their own (rather less effective) turnout machines.  If the right can provide even a modicum of unambiguous support, then they have a decent chance of winning a mid-term political victory and a creating counterweight to what they see as an over-reaching left-wing majority government.

  • Why Slovakia has Never Had A Centre-Right President.   This doesn’t even require morning-after “thought.”  Why? Because they rarely get to the second round.   Because–as with nearly everything else on Slovakia’s centre-right–they can’t agree who should get to campaign.  In a very practical sense (and here I discard any attempt at theorizing), Slovakia has a rough balance between two camps, (earlier it was democratic-cosmopolitan against more authoriarian-national, now it is economic left versus economic right with some residual feelings that the former is authoritarian-national and the later is democratic-cosmopolitian).  In each case  the former has often been better at organizing around a single individual: Meciar in the first case, Fico in the second (which is not to say that these two represent the same values or the same camp).  At times the right has managed to do the same in more of a “first-among-equals” model (Dzurinda in 1998, Radicova in 2009 and 2010), though these came almost by accident, and only when the powers that be were willing to compromise on a second-tier but electorally gifted common candidate.  The success of the right has also depended on the emergence of a third-force willing to work with the established right parties but able to attract votes from those who were disillusioned with both sides: Schuster in 1998, Rusko in 2002, Sulik in 2010 (this also happened with Matovic in 2012 but it still wasn’t enough).  These additional draws helped the established parties of the right in each case to form a majority in parliament even when the opposing force was numerically stronger, sometimes by a large margin.  It is fascinating to me the degree to which the strengths and weaknesses of both sides are so linked together.  The left has, at the moment, a large and fairly coherent party, but its organizational near-monopoly leaves fewer opportunities for attracting  those who are sympathetic to the side but do not like those who are actually in charge of it.  We may see that in this presidential election where Fico’s reservoir of active supporters of losing candidates is significantly smaller than Kiska’s.  The right, has, at the moment, a very wide spectrum of offerings that attract people of many different stripes and that probably helps them attract a few extra voters (though again it was insufficient in 2012 in the wake of gorilla scandal), but a poor track record of coordinating those multiple streams into a single voice (hence the coalition disarray in 2011, and the inability to avoid multiple candidates in 2004 and 2013).  It will be interesting to see if a loss by Fico (or even a tiny-margin victory) will produce some move toward a new force that can attract those disillusioned but left-leaning voters, either from within Smer or from without.  As for the right, perhaps this most recent example will bring some move toward consolidation, but that’s hard to envision as long as every single ambitious person on the right believes that /he/ is the only one who can accomplish the task.

Slovakia Presidential Election: Results

I don’t have a live stream from Slovak channels where I am so I’m obviously saying what others have said already: Fico and Kiska.  

What I didn’t expect was the general strength of the others and the general weakness of Fico.  It’s going to be a very interesting two weeks because Kiska and Fico are separated by 4%, and together the candidates of anti-Fico parties (Prochazka, Hrusovsky, Knazko, Carnogursky, Bardos and Mezenska) have 45%.    

It won’t be quite that simple since voters of some of the anti-Fico candidates above will stay home, and Fico will turnout more voters next time.  But the range of additional turnout may not be that great: this time the turnout was almost identical to last time (around 43.6%) and in last times competitive second round it only rose by 12 percentage points.  Of course some of the voters who support the current non-Fico losing candiates will stay home, but with these results the anti-Fico forces might also smell blood and turn out to humilate their opponent.    It’s not at all impossible for Fico, but this is going to be much harder, I think, than many expected.

The next two weeks will see a very big test of the Fico turnout machine and media machine.  It’s going to be a race between Smer-turnout and Smer-negative ads against Kiska on the one side and Kiska’s soft support plus the existing parties on the other.  The question for the former will be “can we get out enough of our loyalists and sufficiently tarnish our opponents.  The question for the latter will be “do we dislike Fico enough to work for Kiska?” on the other side.  Given the likely strength of the former and weakness of the latter, Kiska would /need/ to have a head start to have a fighting chance.  With these results, he does.