September elections deliver centre-right coalition

A GREAT deal rested on the results of this year's parliamentary elections. Western diplomats repeatedly warned Slovak voters that a return to power of three-time authoritarian prime minister Vladimír Mečiar would shatter the country's hopes to gain membership in Nato and the European Union (EU).
In the end, the election results shocked politicians and experts alike. Here is a brief review of the key events that marked this election year:


DZURINDA grins as he walks to be sworn in as prime minister for the second time.
photo: TASR

A GREAT deal rested on the results of this year's parliamentary elections. Western diplomats repeatedly warned Slovak voters that a return to power of three-time authoritarian prime minister Vladimír Mečiar would shatter the country's hopes to gain membership in Nato and the European Union (EU).

In the end, the election results shocked politicians and experts alike. Here is a brief review of the key events that marked this election year:


March 13 - A new leftist party - the Social Democratic Alternative (SDA) - is formed by departed members of the Democratic Left Party (SDĽ). Education Minister Milan Ftáčnik is elected party leader at an April 13 party congress.


April 29 - The Left Bloc political party headed by former Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) deputy chairman Jozef Kalman applies for registration with the Interior Ministry.



Party parliamentary seats and election results - 2002
photo: TASR

June 12- The Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission resumes proceedings against the Markíza channel, Slovakia's most-watched, which violated the law by giving inadequate and nonobjective coverage to the Ano party of station owner Pavol Rusko. The violations would continue throughout the preelection period.


July 1 - The leaders of Slovakia's two nationalist opposition parties, Ján Slota and Anna Malíková, are unable to agree on uniting their forces for September parliamentary elections.


July 5- The congress of the HZDS approves a candidate list for elections as proposed by Mečiar. Gone are several top representatives, including former speaker of parliament Ivan Gašparovič.


July 17- Gašparovič and his newly established Movement for Democracy (HZD) are allowed to run in the elections, after the party is officially registered and collects the obligatory 30,000 signatures of support.


August 1- In the first poll released since the formation of the HZD, the party records 5.3 per cent voter support. The HZDS fell from its previous 29.3 per cent to 24, although it remains Slovakia's strongest political force. Later in the month the HZDS, after years of leading the field, falls to second place, and Smer becomes the most popular party.


August 20- The parliament ends its session. Over its four years in office it has approved a record 533 laws. The election campaign officially begins.


September 15- The Democratic Party (DS) withdraws from elections and throws its support behind the SDKÚ, advising voters to cast their ballots for the larger party.


September 20-21 - Results show that the HZDS has won the most votes (19.5 per cent) but Mečiar fails to win enough support among other politicians to form a coalition. Accordingly, a medley of centre-right parties take power: Dzurinda's SDKÚ, Ano, the KDH and the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK). Smer shockingly ends third, after the HZDS and SDKÚ. A party of unreformed communists is returned to the Slovak parliament.


September 22- Right-wing party bosses announce a cabinet deal that promises to give Slovakia a pro-Western and pro-reform administration assembled in record time ahead of crucial Nato and European Union summits.


October 8- The four centre-right parties sign a coalition agreement, vowing to remain united while painful social reforms are launched in the first half of their four-year term.


October 16- Members of Slovakia's new government are sworn in by President Rudolf Schuster.

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