National elections on September 25 and 26 gave a whopping 93 seats in Parliament to four opposition parties, spelling the virtual end for Premier Vladimír Mečiar's coalition government. Although Mečiar's HZDS party actually won the vote by a narrow margin with 27% support, opposition parties together captured over 58% of votes and vowed to form a coalition of their own to ensure Mečiar's defeat.
"These elections were a turning point in Slovakia's history," said Pavol Hamžík, vice-chairman of the opposition SOP party. "The opposition will have a constitutional majority [90 out of 150 seats in Parliament], enough to elect a President and make the constitutional changes needed to return this country to a normal life."
At the headquarters of the SDK, the largest opposition party with 26.3%, the champagne and back-slapping lasted until the wee hours after polls closed. "Fantastic, just fantastic," said an emotional SDK leader Mikuláš Dzurinda.
Vol. 4 No. 21, Oct. 5-11, 1998