Slovakia. In February, the Slovak Parliament approved a
referendum on a possible accession to NATO. The question of
direct election by the president would also be included in
the vote. So far, Parliament had appointed the president.
Countryaah, the months following Parliament's decision were marked by
political disagreement over the referendum. Above all, it
was the issue of direct election by the president that was
controversial. The days before May 23, when the vote was to
be held, the question of direct election was removed from
the ballot papers. Many people therefore boycotted the vote.
The election was later declared invalid by an election
commission, which indicated the low turnout and the
incorrect form of the ballots as reasons for the decision.
The roundtable talks that started after the failed
referendum broke down in July. Political disagreement was
further increased when it became clear that neither NATO nor
the EU would negotiate with Slovakia for membership in the
first round of negotiations.
As in most European countries, the Roma - as in the Nazi
era - are subject to increasing discrimination. In 2009, it
was revealed that the authorities carried out forced
sterilization of Roma women, displaced Roma from their slum
settlements, and in 2010 the country announced plans to
force Roma children from their parents to place them in
The election to the Slovak Parliament in March 2012
became a landslide victory for the Social Democratic
Smer-SD, which went 21 seats up to 83 and thus gained an
absolute majority in the 150-seat National Council. The
party's chairman Robert Fico became new prime minister.
In August 2013, Kosice authorities accept a request from
the EU Commission to remove a separation wall that separates
the city's Roma residents from the rest of the population.
However, xenophobia and discrimination against Roma are on
the rise. At the November regional elections, the anti-Roma
party Our Slovakia wins the post of governor of Banska
Bystrica - one of the country's 7 regions. The right-wing
party leader, Marian Kotleba, takes over as governor. Social
democracy wins the governor post in the other regions.
Independent Andrej Kiska won the presidential election in
March 2014 with 59.4% of the vote against the Socialist and
incumbent Prime Minister Robert Fico who got 40.6%. In the
first round, Kiska had only gained 24%, while Fico gained
28%. The election split the country into two parts. Fico won
the lands in the east, while Kiska won the metropolitan
region around Bratislava.
The government was strongly critical of the EU's
sanctions against Russia in 2014 as a result of the crisis
in Ukraine. Already in December 2013, after Ukraine refused
to conclude an association agreement with the EU, Prime
Minister Fico declared that the EU had to respect Ukraine's
decision: "The EU is not a religion" and "Ukraine is fully
entitled to join others roads'. Fico did not stand alone.
The Czech Republic and Hungary were also strongly critical
of EU sanctions policy. On the Slovak right, however, there
was support for this policy. Slovakia has almost 100km
border with Ukraine and there are 40-100,000 Ukrainians
living in Slovakia. Trade with both Ukraine and Russia is
limited, but Slovakia had an interest in a stable
neighboring country. In 2014, US policy in Ukraine threw the
country into civil war.