The main opposition bloc, the SDK, would win national elections if they were held now, an opinion poll released on April 23 showed.
The poll, conducted by the private FOCUS agency over the first two weeks of April, put support for the five opposition parties grouped in the SDK at 24.5 percent, ahead of the governing HZDS party, which captured 21.9 percent.
While one of Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar's governing coalition members, the right-wing nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS), would garner 7.0 percent of the popular vote, the ultra-left Association of Slovak Workers (ZRS) did not come anywhere near reaching the five-percent threshold needed for parliamentary representation, gaining only 2.6 percent.
The chances of a fourth straight election victory for Meciar-led parties have been further narrowed by the rise of the newly-formed Party of Civic Understanding (SOP), led by Košice Mayor Rudolf Schuster. The SOP was third in the poll with 17.2 percent of public support.
The SOP, which was formed in March and has yet officially to announce its platform, has ruled out participation in any coalition that included Mečiar, but on the other hand, has not said whether it would join the SDK in a coalition government.
Another opposition party, the reformed communist SDĽ, gained 9.7 percent, while the ethnic Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) notched 9.6 percent, the poll said.
Mečiar has steadily been losing electoral support, while facing sharp criticism from the EU, the US and Slovakia's domestic opposition for abusing recently-acquired presidential powers to block criminal proceedings over last year's disputed referendum and the 1995 kidnapping of former President Michal Kováč's son.
7. May 1998 at 0:00 | Peter Javurek