Cohabitation – Slovakia

This is a series of posts that records the cases of cohabitation in countries with semi-presidential constitutions. Cohabitation is defined as the situation where the president and prime minister are from different parties and where the president’s party is not represented in the cabinet. Presidents classed as non-party cannot generate any periods of cohabitation.

Here is my list of cohabitations in Slovakia:

June 2004 – ?
President – Ivan Gašparovič (HZD); PM – Mikulás Dzurinda (SDKU); Coalition – SDKU, SMK, KDH (to Feb 2006), ANO

The Slovakia case is a difficult one. President Gašparovič was elected in 2004. He was elected against Vladimír Mečiar and Eduard Kukan, the candidate of the SDKU. At the second ballot “the ruling parties entered the second round by either urging voters to ignore the run-off (SMK and KDH) or claiming not to support either of the two candidates (SDKU´and ANO)” (Rybárˇ, Electoral Studies, vol. 24, 2005, p. 336). So, it is reasonable to think that Gašparovič was opposed to the government parties, even if he was the lesser of two evils. A potential problem, though, is that the HZD was not represented in parliament, having won 3.28% of the vote and no seats at the 2002 election. Moreover, at the 2006 election it won only 0.63%. In 2009 he was re-elected, but he was supported at the first ballot by two of the coalition parties, including the main party SMER.

So, in one sense, according to the definition used in this blog and according to the affiliations recorded in, there has been cohabitation since 2004. However, when is a party not a party and when is opposition not opposition? Gašparovič could be considered non-party by now, given the HZD scarcely exists. That said, it does still exist. Moreover, if he was supported by government parties in 2009, is he really in opposition, even if his party, if it is a party, is not in government?

For what it’s worth, if I am doing a paper on semi-presidentialism and cohabitation, then I usually hedge my bets and say that cohabitation ended at the 2006 election when the HZD became little more than a one-person party and when, in effect, Gašparovič became a de facto independent. However, it would be perfectly reasonable to record either no periods of cohabitation in Slovakia or to record an ongoing period since 2004.

Party abbreviations:
ANO – Aliancia Nového Občana (Alliance of the New Citizen)
HZD – Hnutie za Demokraciu (Movement for Democracy)
KDH – Krestansko-Demokratické Hnutie (Christian Democratic Movement)
SDKU – Slovenská demokratická a krest’anská únia (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union)
SMK – Strana maďarskej koalície – Magyar Koalíció Pártja (Party of the Hungarian Coalition)

Source of affiliations:

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