THE ONCE powerful Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), whose controversial rule in the 1990s was led by then prime minister Vladimír Mečiar, has left the Slovak political scene after more than two decades of existence.

The delegates of an extraordinary congress in Žilina on January 11 voted to dissolve the party. The congress was attended by 165 of a total of 200 delegates, according to the TASR newswire.

Sergej Kozlik, who has led the political committee of the party since September 2013, said that the HZDS wound down due to internal inflexibility.

“The party couldn’t exercise any self-assessment after [the 2010 general] election,” said Kozlik, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that the party wasn’t able to make any changes in its top echelons, with its leaders unwilling to accept and assume responsibility for the failure. “The party has become rigid, it’s lost its momentum and has ultimately fallen.”

Kozlík said that the debate at the congress was emotional at some points, but generally it went quietly. The delegates of the congress concurred that the party has fulfilled all the principal political goals with which it entered the political scene in 1991, according to Kozlík.

“The main political aim of the HZDS [...] was to achieve first and foremost the status of Slovakia as an independent sovereign country, and later to anchor this state as a stable sovereign one; which I believe we’ve achieved,” Kozlik said, as quoted by TASR.

Kozlik further observed that the party will be dissolved without undergoing liquidation procedures, as it has been facing mounting debts.

Nevertheless, as many members of the party appear to be inclined towards further engagement in politics, the delegates at the congress decided to launch an initiative to set up a new political party to be called the ‘Party of Democratic Slovakia’ (SDS).

The HZDS was set up on June 22, 1991 in Banská Bystrica. The delegates of its first congress elected Vladimír Mečiar as chairman, with Milan Kňažko, Michal Kováč and Augustin Marian Húska taking up the posts of vice-chairs. Headed by Mečiar for almost 20 years, the party managed to form part of a government three times - twice (between 1992-94, and 1994-98) as the dominant governing party, and once within Robert Fico's first government (2006-10) as a junior coalition member. Nevertheless, the 2010 general election saw the party left outside parliament, garnering only some 4 percent of the vote.

The party had been led by a committee made up of its senior members since September 2013 - a supposedly temporary arrangement until a replacement for Mečiar was found after he chose to step down as party chair following two failed attempts to get into parliament in 2010 and 2012. In addition, disillusioned with the party’s direction set by the new collective leadership, Mečiar terminated his membership in December 2013. He claimed that the committee would lead the party into bankruptcy and liquidation behind the backs of its members.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports
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