Supported largely by university-educated urban voters, the SDKÚ lost some of its voters after 1998 to the start-up Ano and Smer parties, as well as to the resurgent Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). Nevertheless, it is expected to figure in any right-wing bloc emerging from the September 20-21 vote and entering the next government.
Its election platform proposes:
* toughening the fight against illegal labour
* direct election of members of parliament
* gradual reduction of taxes and social insurance dues
* cutting public spending
* eliminating state budget subsidies for forestry
* changing division of local administration powers
* eliminating district state offices
Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, 47, was born on February 4, 1955 in east Slovakia's Spišská Nová Ves district. He graduated in 1979 from the Economy Faculty of the Transport University in Zilina, from where he took a PhD degree in 1989.
His first job was with the Transport Research Institute in Žilina where he worked in economic research. In 1980 he signed on with the CSD federal railways, where he worked in the IT department. He later served as deputy transport minister from 1991-1992.
In 1992 Dzurinda was elected to parliament for the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). In the 1994 cabinet of Jozef Moravčík he was Transport Minister.
Mikuláš Dzurinda led the Slovak Democratic Coalition since its founding as a political force to defeat Vladimír Mečiar in July 1998. Since October 1998 he has been Slovakia's Prime Minister.
After internal tensions in the SDK made it unworkable, Dzurinda founded the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) in 2000 and became its leader.
He is married with two children.
Prepared by Tom Nicholson from press reports and own research.