Leading the way, but also following the trend: the Slovak National Party

Tim Haughton, Marek Rybar, Kevin Deegan-Krause

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Despite spells outside parliament, with its blend of nationalist and populist appeals the Slovak National Party (SNS) has been a prominent fixture on Slovakia’s political scene for three decades. Unlike some of the newer parties in Slovakia and across the region, partly as a product of the point of its (re-)creation, SNS has a comparable organizational density to most established parties in the country and has invested in party branches and recruiting members. Although ordinary members exercised some power and influence during the fissiparous era of the early 2000s, SNS has been notable for the role played by its leader in decision-making and steering the party. Each leader placed their stamp on the projection, pitch and functioning of the party, both as a decision-making organization and an electoral vehicle. Ordinary members have been largely—but not exclusively—relegated to the role of cheerleaders and campaigners for the party’s tribunes; a situation which has not changed significantly in the era of social media. The pre-eminent position of the leader and the limited options for “voice” has led unsuccessful contenders for top posts and their supporters to opt instead for “exit.” Despite having some of the traits of the mass party and having engaged in some of the activities common for mass parties, especially in the earlier years of its existence, in more recent times in particular, SNS falls short of the mass party model both in aspiration and reality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329–339
Number of pages11
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2021


  • party leadership
  • party membership
  • party organization
  • Slovakia


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