IN THE FIRST voter opinion poll released by a widely trusted polling agency since the formation of the HZD party in July, the splinter group recorded five percent support, while its parent HZDS fell to under 20 per cent.
The poll, conducted by the Focus agency from July 31 to August 8 on 1,074 respondents, largely confirmed the results of two earlier polls, giving the HZDS party of former PM Vladimír Mečiar 19.8 per cent support (down from 24 per cent in a July Focus poll), the non-parliamentary Smer of Robert Fico 16.3 per cent (16.4), and the governmental Hungarian ethnic coalition 11.7 per cent (11.4).
The HZDS has been ostracised both at home and abroad for its authoritarian tactics while in government from 1994-1998, and western diplomats have said if the party returns to power this year after September 20-21 elections, Slovakia might not receive an invitation to join Nato or the European Union.
The HZD, meanwhile, which broke away from the HZDS last month under former Mečiar intimate Ivan Gašparovič, called its five per cent "a major success" given the haste with which the group was formed and launched.
Rounding out the survey chart, the non-parliamentary Ano of media owner Pavol Rusko came fourth with 10.1 per cent (8.5 in July), the SDKÚ of Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda fifth at 9.4 per cent (8.7) and the Christian Democrats next at six per cent (5.7).
According to the Focus poll, the opposition Slovak National Party (4.7) and Real Slovak National Party (3.8) would not score enough to secure seats in parliament (the floor for representation in Slovakia is five per cent).
Almost 75 per cent of eligible voters were determined to take part in elections, while 9.3 per cent would not and 15.8 per cent were undecided.
According to the poll results, the HZDS would take 37 seats in the 150-seat parliament, Smer 31, the SMK 22, Ano 20, the SDKÚ 18, the KDH 12 and the HZD 10.
That means a Smer-HZDS-HZD constellation, considered unfavourable by the West, would have just enough seats to form a majority government (78), while a right-wing SDKÚ-KDH-SMK-Ano coalition would not.
Both Smer and the HZD, however, have said they reject cooperation with a Mečiar-led HZDS.