Category Archives: Slovakia


Slovakia – Presidential vetoes

The Slovak president is relatively weak. Siaroff (in EJPR, 2003) gives the institution a score 1/9 (and that for direct election). Krouwel (in Acta Politica, 2003) gives the presidency a score of 2.5, just above Slovenia and less than Bulgaria and Lithuania. However, recently, President Ivan Gašparovič has been flexing his institutional muscles.

Art. 102 (1) o of the Slovak Constitution states that the president: “can return to the National Council of the Slovak Republic any laws with comments within 15 days after their approval”.
Art. 95 (2) states: “If the President of the Slovak Republic returns a law with comments, the National Council of the Slovak Republic will discuss the constitutional, or other law again and, in the event of its approval, such a law must be promulgated.”

So, the president may veto a bill, but parliament may override the veto with a simple majority.

Anyway, President Gašparovič has become an active vetoer in recent times. On the basis of a search of the Slovak Spectator, I identified the following:

23 December: the president vetoed the Judges and Judicial Assistants Act. Parliament overturned the veto on 2 February.

17 December 2010: the president vetoed part of a finance bill that changed various taxes. Parliament overturned the veto on 21 December.

15 December 2010: the president vetoed the law merging Slovak Television (STV) and Slovak Radio (SRo). Parliament overturned the veto. In fact, President Gašparovič refused to sign the law after it had been passed for the second time. In this event, though, the bill still becomes law.

4 November 2010: the president vetoed an amendment to the Judicial Council Act. Parliament overturned the veto.

26 August 2010: the president vetoed an amendment to the General Administration Act relating to the Environment Ministry. Parliament overturned the veto.

There were also vetoes earlier in the year.

There are some figures on the website of the Slovak parliament, suggesting that a presidential veto is relatively common. For example, there seem to have been 28 vetoes in the 2002-2006 legislature.

Slovakia is currently experiencing a period of what might be called ‘phoney-cohabitation’. Technically, President Gašparovič is a member of the Movement for Democracy (Hnutie za demokraciu – HZD). He was elected in 2004. However, at the June 2006 legislative election, the HZD won just 0.6% of the vote and had no parliamentary representation. As far as I can tell, the party did not compete in the 2010 legislative election. In the 2009 presidential election Gašparovič was supported by the now opposition Smer and SNS parties.

So, President Gašparovič has a party affiliation and his party is not in government. Therefore, there would seem to be a period of cohabitation. However, the fact that his party does not seem to exist in the usual sense of political competition makes the Slovakian case of cohabitation somewhat unusual.

Slovakia – Municipal elections

It seems to be local elections week on The Semi-presidential One. On Saturday, municipal elections were held in Slovakia.

The Slovak Spectator is reporting that turnout was almost 50 per cent, though it was much higher in small local constituencies than in the big cities. In Bratislava turnout was about 33 per cent. They also provide the results of the mayoral elections in the country’s biggest cities. Smer, which lost power following this summer’s election but which was by far the largest party in terms of votes, has done well. In Bratislava a Smer-backed independent won. In Košice the Smer candidate has ousted the incumbent mayor. The Slovak Spectator also reports that Mikuláš Dzurinda, the leader of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), which is part of the governing coalition, has admitted that the elections were a defeat. That said, independent candidates and candidates from the governing coalition did win office in some places.

One of the complications of local elections is that national-level coalitions do not replicate themselves at the local level. So, at the local level Smer candidates have sometimes been elected with the support of parties that are in power at the national level.

Official results are available in English here.

Slovakia – Referendum

In Slovakia a referendum was held on 18 September. The following six questions were asked (official translation, note!):

1. Do you agree that National Council of the Slovak Republic repeals by law the duty of natural and legal persons to pay a fee for services provided to public by Slovak television broadcasting and Slovak radio broadcasting?
2. Do you agree that the National Council of the Slovak Republic extends by law the possibility to hear a performance of a National Council’s member as a misdemeanour in all cases as stated by the Act on misdemeanours?
3. Do you agree that the National Council of the Slovak Republic by constitutional law decrease the number of its member to 100 as of the next term?
4. Do you agree that the National Council of the Slovak Republic enacts that the public administration bodies can procure personal motor vehicles up to maximum price of 40 Thousand EUR?
5. Do you agree that the National Council of the Slovak Republic provides the possibility to vote the members of the National Council and the European Parliament by internet?
6. Do you agree that the National Council of the Slovak Republic exempts by law the public officers from right of reply as stated by the Act on press law?

Official figures show that the turnout was 22.84%. For the result to be binding a turnout of 50% was required. Therefore, even though the ‘yes’ vote ranged from about 70% in favour (question 5) to 95% in favour(question 2), the changes failed.

Slovakia – Referendum to be held

A referendum will be held in Slovakia on 15 September. Slovak Spectator reports that the referendum was called by President Ivan Gašparovič after he received a petition containing more than 368,000 signatures. Art. 95 (1) of the Slovakian constitution states that “A referendum shall be declared by the President of the Slovak Republic upon a petition submitted by at least 350,000 citizens”. So, after Iceland previously, this is another case of popular democracy in action.

The referendum will ask six questions: whether or not television and radio licence fees should be abolished; whether MPs’ immunity should be curbed; whether the number of MPs should be reduced from 150 to 100; whether there should be a maximum price paid for cars used by Government officials; whether internet voting should be allowed; and whether the automatic right to reply by public officials should be removed.

The referendum was organised by the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party. The party gathered the signatures mainly prior to recent election and the SaS is now in government. This means that some of the questions are largely immaterial because they are part of the government’s programme. However, to my knowledge, the referendum is going ahead in this form.

Slovak Spectator also reports that, as expected, the programme of the new coalition government was approved on 10 August. The government received the support of 79 of 150 deputies. The coalition comprises the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Most-Híd. The PM is Iveta Radičová of the SDKÚ.

Slovakia – Government taking shape

Following the election on 12 June, the new Slovakian government is taking shape.

Wikipedia has the final result:

As reported in a previous post, even though left-leaning Smer was returned as the largest party, the outgoing Smer-led government was unable to form a majority in the new legislature because its allies did poorly. Therefore, it looks as if a four-party centre-right coalition will be formed.

The coalition is likely to comprise the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Most-Híd. The premiership will go to Iveta Radičová of the SDKÚ.

The government is due to be approved on 8 July.

There is a nice election report at the Monkey Cage.

Slovakia – Legislative election

A general election was held in Slovakia on 12 June. Previously, the government was a coalition led by the centre-left Smer-Social Democracy party and that also included representatives of People’s Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (ĽS-HZDS) and the Slovak National Party (SNS).

The results are somewhat paradoxical. (They are available here). Smer gained 12 seats in the 150-seat legislature, taking its total to 62 seats. So, it is by far the largest party in parliament. However, because of the 5% electoral threshold, ĽS-HZDS lost all of its 15 seats. In addition, the SNS only just managed to cross the 5% threshold, losing 11 seats and returning only 9 deputies. For its part, the largest centre-right party remains the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (SDKÚ-DS), but it lost three seats and now has 28 seats. By contrast, a new party, Freedom and Solidarity (Sloboda a Solidarita – SaS), a liberal party, came from nowhere and won 22 seats.

So, the bottom line is that the incumbent government can only rely on 71 seats in the legislature, which is not enough for a majority. The current opposition could cobble together 79 seats, but this would be a slim majority and open to defection and would be a four-party coalition.

There are good reports at the Slovak Spectator. There is a lot of information on Slovakian parties and elections at pozorblog. This is perhaps the best place to follow the inevitable coalition wrangling.

Slovakia – Election poll

A general election is due to be held in Slovakia on 12 June. The Slovak Spectator has published an overview of the performance of the parties in the polls over the years, as well as the results of the most recent poll.

The current government is a coalition of the left-wing Smer party, the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS) and the People’s Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (ĽS-HZDS). The PM, Robert Fico, is from Smer.

In terms of general trends, the following image captures the situation nicely:

In other words, there has been a rise in support for the right-wing parties since the last election, but probably not enough to dislodge a Smer-led government. Indeed, the level of support for Smer is still quite a bit higher than its vote at the 2006 election.

In terms of party support, the Slovak Spectator reports the following:

Smer 38.6 per cent
Slovak National Party 6.2 per cent
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia 5.8 per cent
Slovak Democratic and Christian Union 11.3 per cent
Freedom and Solidarity 9.6 per cent
Christian Democratic Movement 9.6 per cent
Most-Híd 5.6 per cent
Hungarian Coalition Party 5 per cent

A very useful website/blog for Slovakian parties and elections, pozorblog, seems to suggest that a Smer-SNS coalition is the most likely outcome of the election at this point.

Slovakia – Regional elections

In Slovakia elections were on on 14 November to elect the governors and deputies of its eight regions, or Higher Territorial Unit (VUCs).

Recall that the national government is a three-party coalition headed by Robert Fico of Smer-SD (Direction/Social Democracy) and includes representatives of the SNS (Slovak National Party) and the L’S-HZDS (People’s Party/Movement for Democratic Slovakia). Parliamentary elections are due to be held in June 2010.

The election for the governors is a two-round ballot. The second round will be held this weekend.

Slovak Spectator reports that turnout at the first round of the regional elections was very low at just 22.9% with only 19.5% in Bratislava. The full results in English are available here.

As is common in regional elections in countries with multi-party systems there were a lot of local alliances. Therefore, it is difficult to provide clear-cut results for individual parties. However, Slovak Spectator makes sense of the results as follows: “The coalition of Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and Smer was the most successful with its 101 deputies of the total of 408 elected regional parliamentary deputies. It represents a 24.8 percent share. Independent candidates will hold 55 seats, 13.5 percent, while the centre-right coalition of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union and the Christian Democratic Movement will have 50 seats representing a 12.3 percent share”

Four of the eight governors were elected at the first ballot.

Košice: incumbent re-elected supported by Smer, the HZDS, the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) and Most-Híd
Nitra: the Slovak coalition won, comprising opposition and coalition parties, Smer, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH).
Trnava: an independent was elected, but he was backed by the Slovak National Party (SNS)
Žilina: the winner was supported by the coalition parties Smer, SNS and HZDS.

So, basically, it seems to me that Smer and the incumbent coalition parties generally did pretty well.

There will be four run-off elections this weekend in the remaining regions. The government candidates seem well placed to win. The exception seems to be the Bratislava region where the government candidate is coming in a poor second and where the regional parliament will have an opposition majority comprising the KDH, the SDKÚ, the Civil Conservative Party (OKS), and the SMK.

Slovak Spectator provides a synopsis of the party situation in all eight regions.

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:

Slovakia – EP election

The EP election was held in Slovakia on Saturday.

The EU is reporting the following results (2004 in brackets):

Smer – 32%, 5 seats (16.9%, 3 seats)
Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (SDKÚ) – 17%, 2 seats (17.0%, 3 seats)
Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) – 11.3%, 2 seats (13.2%, 2 seats)
Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) – 10.9%, 2 seat (16.2%, 3 seats)
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) – 9%, 1 seat (17%, 3 seats)
Slovak National Party (SNS) – 5.6%, 1 seat
Sloboda a solidarita (SaS) – 4.7%, 0 seats

The turnout was 19.63%, which was up from 2004(!), but which was again probably the lowest in Europe.

The incumbent government is a Smer, LS-HZDS, SNS coalition.

In the 2006 parliamentary election Smer got 29.14%, HZDS 8.8% and the nationalist SNS 11.7%. So, the main incumbent party has not been sanctioned, even though GDP fell by 5.4% in the first quarter of 2009.

An article on the 2004 EP election in Slovakia can be found here.