At­ti­la Si­mon: The com­mu­nal elec­tions in 1938 in Czecho­slo­va­kia and the Hun­gar­i­an pol­i­tics in Slo­va­kia

1938 was a jubilee year in Czecho­slo­va­kia – the 20th anniver­sary of the repub­lic’s for­ma­tion. Although, instead of cel­e­bra­tion, the be­ing of not be­ing of the cen­tral­is­tic Czechoslo­vak nation-s­tate became the most basic issue of the year that is not be­ing arranged in the spir­it of Masaryk’s ideas. Final­ly the repub­lic – although for great sac­ri­fices – sur­vived the year ‘38, but it was only a ques­tion of time when the flow of events sweeps it away. The nec­es­sary source of stud­ies of polit­i­cal his­to­ry char­ac­ter deal­ing with the first Czechoslo­vak Repub­lic are the results of the elec­tions of the time that thanks to the con­tem­po­rary dem­o­crat­ic arrange­ments and cor­rect elec­toral sys­tem served as a rel­a­tive­ly objec­tive back­ground at the analy­sis of polit­i­cal rela­tion­ship­s. Since the Czechoslo­vak polit­i­cal palette was rather struc­tural, these results are per­fect for assess­ing polit­i­cal con­vic­tion of vot­er­s.

The com­mu­nal elec­tions in ’38 in the mid­dle of con­tem­po­rary intense polit­i­cal and nation­al­i­ty rela­tion­ships (in the lack of Par­lia­men­tary elec­tion­s) actu­al­ly expressed the opin­ion of the pop­u­la­tion on the prog­ram of par­ties, and through this the rela­tion­ship to the repub­lic.
The com­mu­nal elec­tions in 1938 were to 1990 the last elec­tions in Czecho­slo­va­kia that could be called demo­c­ra­t­ic, even though only one study deals with the events and results of the Slo­vak com­mu­nal elec­tions in ’38 (Bystrický 1992). This study tries to fills this gap, while it tries to ana­lyze the process of elec­tions and the results from the point of view of Hun­gar­i­an minor­i­ty peo­ple in Slo­va­ki­a.
Behind the good elec­toral result of the EMP the 20-year expe­ri­ence of Czecho­slo­va­kia’s exis­tence of the Hun­gar­i­an minor­i­ty vot­ers is to be seen. This expe­ri­ence caused that for the major­i­ty of Hun­gar­i­an pop­u­la­tion the argu­ments – lack­ing some­times dem­a­gogy and some­times ration­al­i­ty – com­mu­ni­cat­ed by the EMP were proved to be stronger argu­ments than that slo­gans that had been con­tin­u­ous­ly demon­strat­ed (but not ful­filled) through two decades by gov­ern­ment par­ties.
The con­tem­po­rary sources fre­quent­ly ment­ion that psy­cho­log­i­cal impact that the „whis­per­ing pro­pa­gan­da“ and through other tools the EMP and the Hun­gar­i­an revi­sion organ­i­za­tions exer­cised on the pop­u­la­tion and that the Hun­gar­i­an party demon­strates as one of the rea­son of such exten­t. The his­to­ri­an should not miss this fac­tor, obvi­ous­ly. These tools that exer­cised impact undoubt­ed­ly exist, although in a gen­er­al and con­fi­den­tial elec­toral sys­tem their usage is rather doubt­ful.
In the autumn of 1938 nei­ther the gov­ern­ment in Bu­da­pest, nor the Hun­gar­i­an politi­cians in Slo­va­kia could pre­cise­ly judge the actu­al­i­ty of a pos­si­ble bor­der revi­sion. The aver­age voter received even less infor­ma­tion, and it is sure that from the suc­cess of EMP bor­der revi­sion was not expect­ed, it was hoped that the minor­i­ty issue in Czecho­slo­va­kia will be arranged: the Hun­gar­i­ans will have iden­ti­cal chances to get employed in state and pub­lic sphere than the Czechs and Slo­vak­s; land prop­er­ty re­form will be solved; the issue of the Hun­gar­i­an lan­guage usage will be solved etc. The Hun­gar­i­an minor­i­ty in Slo­va­kia in May and June 1938 voted Hun­gar­i­an unity in these expec­ta­tion­s.