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Party politics across Central and Eastern Europe has become less structured. Many of the divides that anchored political competition have waned in recent years, weakening the attachment of voters to the existing palette of parties and making them more likely to be attracted to new and non-traditional electoral vehicles. But for such parties to succeed at the ballot box, they need to be able to frame elections and campaign effectively. Drawing on data from a specially commissioned survey, we find that the success of Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) led by Igor Matovič in the 2020 parliamentary elections in Slovakia owed much to the crafting of an anti-corruption appeal combined with an effective campaign. Both mobilization and conversion of voters, particularly through television and the leaders’ debates, in the months leading up to election day ensured OĽaNO won a quarter of the vote. OĽaNO stands in stark contrast to other parties whose leaders failed to craft as effective a message, miscalculated the impact of electoral rules and in some cases were unable to distance themselves enough from their past actions. The success of OĽaNO underlines that themes related to anti-corruption and good governance have become central to party politics and political contestation. More broadly, the election and its aftermath continued a general trend of forward movement of voters from old parties to new to newer still, indicating the churn of party politics in Slovakia is likely to continue.


Other Political Science


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