THE LARGEST centre-right party in the current parliament and the largest party in the current government, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), has ruled out governing with the opposition Smer party after the general election in March. Smer hit back by saying that Slovakia needs a different type of government from what its leader called “a right-wing mash-up”. While one analyst suggested that the SDKÚ was only restating the party’s long-standing position, another observer said it had been spooked by the fear of losing right-wing voters.
“The SDKÚ will not enter a government after the parliamentary elections in 2012 with Smer,” party leader and former prime minister Mikuláš Dzurinda said on January 8, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “Our decision is firm and binding; it [has been made] out of respect for the citizens.”
Dzurinda said that the party wants to focus on cooperation with Most-Híd. Cooperation with Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) will depend on how that party views Slovakia’s role in the eurozone, he added.
Smer leader Robert Fico responded immediately by saying that his party never doubted that the SDKÚ would give preference to what he called “a right-wing mash-up” over stability.
“If Mikuláš Dzurinda wants confrontation, we will go into it,” said Fico as quoted by SITA. “We are seeking a strong government; they seek the alternative of chaos.”
Fico earlier said that he is seeking a strong two-member coalition. Observers say that the easiest coalition for Smer would be to rule with its former ruling coalition partner, the Slovak National Party (SNS).
If parliamentary seats were to be distributed based on the latest opinion poll, conducted by the Polis agency between December 16 and 23, Smer would get 75 out of 150 seats, the SDKÚ 18, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) 16; Most-Híd and SaS 15 each, and the SNS 11. No other parties would clear the 5-percent threshold needed to win seats in parliament.
When quizzed about Dzurinda’s motives for excluding Smer from the SDKÚ’s list of potential coalition partners, Juraj Marušiak, senior research fellow with the Institute of Political Sciences at the Slovak Academy of Sciences, said that the SDKÚ wants to preserve its leading position on the right side of the political spectrum, and talking about a coalition with Smer would not make that possible.
“A significant role is played by the pressure coming from a large portion of right-wing voters who might abandon the SDKÚ and switch to the comparable SaS or to [the new party] Ordinary People,” Marušiak told The Slovak Spectator.
Grigorij Mesežnikov, president of the Institute for Public Affairs, attributed Dzurinda’s statement to the fact that the SDKÚ’s last congress rejected future cooperation with Smer and made this position part of its election programme.
“Therefore it does not surprise me at all,” Mesežnikov told The Slovak Spectator. “A solid party should stick to the positions incorporated in official documents. Thus, it is not surprising at all. I did not expect anything less.”
According to Mesežnikov, the reason why the SDKÚ will not cooperate with Smer is that in terms of its programme it is a completely different type of political party, while the two parties’ styles also differ markedly.
“I do not think it is connected with the election campaign that they have restated a well-known issue,” Mesežnikov said.
According to Mesežnikov, Robert Fico often strikes a pose by seeking to define the number of parties in a future ruling coalition and saying who he will create the next government with.
“I think he will take anything,” Mesežnikov said, adding that if conditions were to emerge allowing him to create a government with the SNS he would take the opportunity immediately.
With Radka Minarechová and Peter Bagin