Two polls released in July by the independent Nazory and Focus companies have given a sharply divided picture of what is going on in the hearts and minds of Slovak voters. The former group gave current government parties almost 36% of popular support, while the latter produced a figure of 29.9%.
The Focus agency produced figures on July 17 to show that support for Premier Vladimír Mečiar's ruling HZDS party had risen over 2% since June to hit 25.9% of eligible voters. The main SDK opposition party, on the other hand, had fallen 1.2 points to 21.2% over the same period. The agency gave the Party of Civic Understanding (SOP), led by popular Košice mayor Rudolph Schuster, a 14.2% tally, while the reformed communist SDĽ party and the Hungarian Coalition Party both fell below 10%, scoring 9.8 and 9.9% respectively. Of the 11 other parties contesting the elections in September, only the ruling coalition member Slovak National Party (7.2%) had more than the 5% of popular support needed to secure parliamentary representation.
These results were challenged on June 20 by the Nazory agency, which showed the SDK with a 3% bulge over the HZDS at 23.4 to 20.1%. The SOP came in a strong third at 18.4%, while the SDĽ attracted an unusually strong 16.4% of voters. The Hungarian Party registered 9.5%, and the Slovak National Party scored 8.5%. The agency reported that only 8.5% of voters contacted would not take part in elections, while 13.7% were undecided as to their preference.
Meanwhile, the independent Markant agency found that Schuster was the most popular figure in the country, scoring a 21.4% approval rating among the 1,625 Slovaks asked between June 30 and July 15 to choose the public figure with "the most sympathetic personality." Mečiar finished second with 19.3%, and SDK leader Mikulaš Dzurinda third with 16.1%.
But when it came to naming unpopular figures, Mečiar was the undisputed champion with a 45.1% rejection rate. SDK deputy Ján Čarnogurský was a distant runner up with 21.6%.
13. Aug 1998 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson