THE FOLLOWING is an overview of the major points in the programmes of political parties for the upcoming general elections. Current government parties are listed first, followed by opposition and major non-parliamentary parties.
Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ)
PM Mikuláš Dzurinda's SDKÚ has said that Slovakia will be a success when it is "educated, just, civil and safe". The party centers its program on continuing the reforms started by the current right-wing government. It puts great weight on education, justice and safety, with its main goal as improving reforms and making progress on education and justice. The SDKÚ is likely to pursue euro adoption as planned - in January 2009 - and to tame state spending, so that the Maastricht criteria for euro adoption, especially limiting the public finance deficit to 3 percent of GDP, are met. One way to do this is to cut state bureaucracy and encourage tax collection through the existing flat-tax system. Like several other parties, the SDKÚ also plans to decrease taxes gradually and to unify the income and payroll tax (social insurance payments) under one roof.
The party also promises to improve the management of the social affairs and labour agenda through measures that encourage activity rather than the passive receipt of state benefits.
The education sector should be improved by reforming school cirricula, while students should be required to co-finance their university studies. The party promotes the Internet and greater support for science and research.
The party also wants to increase law enforcement and expedite court proceedings through legislative changes that would curb frivolous court delays. The party also plans to abolish both the Economy Ministry and the post of Deputy PM for Human Rights and Minorities.
Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK)
The SMK, under Béla Bugár, is traditionally strong in areas such as minority issues, regional development and agriculture. The party boasts it has earned a reputation as a reliable partner. Much of its program is dedicated to the support of cultural heritage and the development of areas traditionally inhabited by Hungarian nationals. As the party states in its program: "among the SMK's most cherished goals is the support and representation of the economic and social interests of regions with mixed inhabitants". The SMK also supports the expansion of human rights and equal opportunities. The SMK's top five economic priorities include "fast and balanced" economic growth, the introduction of the euro in 2009, new jobs, the development of the regions and rural areas and the development of infrastructure.
The SMK also aims to cut income taxes to 17 percent and holds privatisation to be the "most important process of economic transformation".
The party supports regional development, arguing that regional disparities have to be addressed. One of the tools of eliminating the disparities is to build roads to encourage more investment. The party also argues that agriculture, food production, and forestry are the backbone of the rural economy, making it essential to develop these areas as well.
Supporting regional development, traditional crafts and economic activities should also serve as the basis for the development of rural tourism, which is one way to improve the economic situation in these areas.
In education, the SMK supports more effective language and IT education.
Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)
Pavol Hrušovský's KDH is a traditional conservative party that promotes traditional values, such as family. This has also become one of the main themes of its 2006 election campaign, which runs under the motto "For a decent life in Slovakia". The KDH highlights the principles of freedom, family and culture as its main defining features. Its program is oriented towards supporting traditional families, including tax advantages for two-parent families and a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The party also believes that families with more than one child should receive a 100-percent higher tax bonus, that newlyweds should receive a tax break, and the birth of a new child should bring higher state support. Working children should also be able to direct a part of their paid taxes to their retired parents.
The KDH supports maintaining the flat-tax system, but gradually decreasing the tax rate to 14 percent. The party will support cutting payroll taxes as a priority and promotes Slovakia's tax sovereignty within the EU.
The party also pledges to support the business environment in Slovakia by decreasing the administrative burden in setting up business licenses and the bureaucracy related to doing business.
The party's programme is also strong in the area of security and justice. Police should receive higher wages, while the number of officers should also increase. Within its pledge to fight crime is a rather curious plan to publish a list of clients who frequent prostitutes. The party argues that prostitution is linked to other criminal activities, such as drug dealing and human trafficking.
As the strongest opposition party, Robert Fico's left-wing Smer promises to overturn the right-wing "experiments" of the current government. According to Smer, its program is "about restoring human dignity", which it aims to achieve by increasing spending in certain key areas. Smer considers the current flat tax unfair and plans to abolish the system, so that richer people would pay more. It also plans to reintroduce a tax on dividends and higher - probably 25 percent - corporate income tax rates for natural monopolies, "dominant" companies and financial and banking institutions. Tax evasion would be prevented and/or punished through tougher legislation.
Smer will also push for the introduction of two VAT rates, with the lower rate, probably around 10 percent, to be imposed on basic food, selected medicinal drugs, energy, healthcare goods, social services and services in the area of education, science and research.
In the healthcare sector, Smer pledges to repeal the existing symbolic fees of Sk20 per doctor visit and Sk50 per day in hospital and halt the transformation of health insurers into joint stock companies. Smer says that it will "use all options available to finance investment activities in the healthcare sector from EU funds".
In the area of pension reform, Smer says it respects the creation of the second pension pillar, but wants to make it voluntary rather than mandatory (which is planned for all new insurees leaving school after June 2007). Smer also pledges to rewrite the current Labour Code to guarantee greater job protection, and to encourage a more intense social dialogue to help "labour unions regain their position as an effective defender of employee interests".
In the area of foreign policy, Smer highlights that the "world has four directions" and, therefore, promises that its foreign policy will be "directed to the west, as well as zje east, north and south".
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)
In its policies, Vladimír Mečiar's HZDS relies on three pillars of society - the Catholic Church and national, civic and social sensibilities. The party pledges that its financial and monetary policy will be aimed at creating economic stability, low inflation and low interest rates, as well as support for innovation and investment. The economy should also create conditions for a smooth adoption of the euro in 2009. The party says that the economic environment will be based on "a socially and ecologically-oriented market economy, respect for private ownership, and taking part in the global economy".
The party wants to support agriculture and bring it up to a level comparable with the rest of the world. The entry of foreign capital into Slovakia must be "effective", while the party says that in "strategic areas" it is necessary to retain state ownership.
The HZDS wants to cut state spending, especially through savings on state bureaucracy. It also plans to fine-tune the three-pillar pension system. In the area of regional policy, the party wants to "create programs that will help the regions adapt structurally". The party also pledges to push through an active employment policy and to create an effective social system for those who are temporarily out of work. The party also supports reducing the payroll tax burden and the introduction of legislative, tax and financial stimuli on the labour market to encourage employers to create more part-time jobs, especially for women raising children. Education should better reflect the practical needs of the job market.
The party also proposes a new three-pillar system of healthcare insurance to enable a new model of financing health insurance.
Slovak Communist Party (KSS)
Jozef Ševc and the KSS blame Slovakia's democratic governments after the fall of Communism in 1989 for society's current "economic, moral and cultural decay". The hard-line communists insist that unemployment, crime, low wages and pensions, as well as other problems facing Slovakia, are the result of the "laws of capitalism", such as the free market, unlimited private ownership and maximum profits.
The KSS claims it is "the only true left-wing party" in Slovakia and plans to demand the revision of "anti-consumer" legislation in health care, social welfare and education, as well as the "legislative limitation of corruption in constitutional posts and society as a whole".
The KSS also wants to halt the further privatisation of state property and to strengthen the position of the state in strategy and planning for the main economic sectors.
The KSS insists that the state must own more than a 50-percent stake in all strategic companies, natural resources, and financial institutions. Advantages for foreign investors should be abolished and equal conditions should be created for domestic business people. The KSS wants progressive taxation and "taxes on luxury and excessive property". It aims to decrease the VAT on selected items, such as food, medication and books.
The KSS wants to eliminate unemployment permanently by 2010 and bring wages, pensions and social payments in Slovakia up to the level in the EU in the medium term.
The current healthcare reform should be abolished and a new state-operated healthcare system should be created that will provide free services to all people. The KSS also plans to introduce a single health insurer. The pension reform should also be repealed and pensions should be financed from a single pillar on a pay-as-you-go basis. In the international arena, the KSS is against Slovakia's NATO membership and would even like to see the alliance dissolved.
Free Forum (SF)
When Zuzana Martináková became the leader of the SF two years ago, she told The Slovak Spectator that her party was targeting the middle class, a group the party still primarily addresses. The SF's election motto is "a decent life here and now". The party believes that the state and its representatives should serve the interests of the people and create a friendly environment in society.
In the area of the economy, the state should create a suitable business environment and make sure that the rules are respected. The party says that "the reforms from the post-communist transition period should be completed and stabilised".
According to the SF, the pension system should be based on three pillars. Like many other parties, the SF also supports the idea of cutting taxes and payroll taxes, with the former ideally falling to 15 percent.
The SF believes that "health" should not be considered a commodity and that the state should not challenge the public nature of the healthcare sector, and its principles of solidarity. The SF also supports a greater link between education and practical demand on the labour in order that students receive the latest information from science, technology and natural and social sciences.
Slovak National Party (SNS)
Ján Slota and his SNS recently said that their main goal was to make sure that Hungarians do not form part of the next Slovak government.
The party stresses "Slovak national interests" throughout its election program. For instance, the SNS asserts that "after nearly eight years of the previous and current government, our homeland, our common Slovak house, is in a deep crisis in almost all areas of life".
Similarly to Smer, the SNS accuses the current government of selling off Slovakia's national treasures and strategic monopolies. The party defines its program on the basis of 10 priorities, including effective and flexible state institutions, greater defense spending, deeper involvement in international politics, and a greater political orientation towards the EU rather than the US. The country's recent social reforms should be re-evaluated, especially those in the health care, education and pension sectors.
The party supports agriculture as "the guarantor of food security for the state", and improving the business environment and law enforcement "in the near future". The SNS is also in favour of dropping the VAT rate on selected goods and services.
To achieve its goals, the SNS says that it "is prepared to cooperate with all Slovak political parties that see the need for a dramatic and forceful defense of Slovakia's national interests".
|Voter support for political parties ahead of general elections in % *|
| ||ŠÚ SR||OMV SRo||Focus||Median SK|
|*Charts include data from polls by selected polling agencies in May or at the end of April and only includes parties that would exceed the 5-percent quorum form entering parliament|
| Parties that submitted candidates lists
for the June 17 parliamentary elections
|Slovak Democratic and Christian Union||150/34|
|Hungarian Coalition Party||150/23|
|Christian Democratic Movement||150/25|
|Movement for a Democratic Slovakia||150/44|
|Slovak Communist Party||150/26|
|New Citizen's Alliance||150/50|
|Slovak National Party||150/22|
|Movement for Democracy||150/35|
|Civic Conservative Party||150/31|
|Slovak Workers' Party||119/34|
|Civic Solidarity Party||97/33|
|Rural Agrarian Party||78/15|
|Slovak People's Party||57/1|
|Prosperity of Slovakia||53/13|
|Party of the Democratic Left||29/7|
| Figures at right of chart represent # of candidates / of which women
Source: TASR, current ruling parties ranked first, followed by opposition and non-parliamentary paries.
12. Jun 2006 at 0:00