The Slovak Republic held an early parliamentary election on Saturday, March 10, 2012, following the collapse of Prime Minister Iveta Radicova's coalition government last October. An overview of the Slovak electoral system is presented here.
Nationwide and (for 2004 to 2012) regional-level results are available here for the following presidential and legislative elections:
The legislature of the Slovak Republic, the National Council, is composed of 150 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage for a four-year term of office. National Council seats are filled by proportional representation (PR) in a single, nationwide electoral constituency, where political parties or coalitions of two or more parties submit lists of candidates. Voters may indicate preferences for up to four candidates in one list.
National Council seats are distributed on a nationwide basis by the Hagenbach-Bischoff method. However, in order to participate in the distribution of National Council seats, a party must obtain at least five percent of the vote, while coalitions of two to three parties and four or more parties are required to obtain at least seven and ten percent of the vote, respectively. An electoral quota - the republic electoral number - is calculated by dividing the total number of valid votes polled by qualifying lists by 151 - the number of National Council seats plus one. The number of votes won by each qualifying list is then divided by the electoral quota, and the result of this division, disregarding fractions, is the initial number of seats obtained by each list. Any seats that remain unallocated after the application of the electoral quota are distributed according to the largest remainder method.
List seats are allocated first to candidates whose preferential votes constitute at least three percent of the total number of votes cast for the list; however, if there are more qualifying candidates than available list seats, these are allocated to the candidates with the largest number of preferential votes. If the number of preferential votes is the same, seats are allocated to candidates in the order in which they appear on the list.
The president of the Slovak Republic is directly elected by universal suffrage in two stages of voting. In order to secure a place on the ballot, presidential candidates must be nominated by fifteen members of the National Council, or by a petition signed by 15,000 citizens. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority of all valid votes cast in the first round, then the top two candidates qualify for a runoff election, in which the candidate with the largest number of votes is elected to office for a term of five years.
Originally, the National Council chose the president, but a 1999 amendment to the constitution established the popular election of the president by runoff voting. Popular voting for presidential elections was adopted following a prolonged impasse in 1998, in which the National Council repeatedly tried to elect a new president, but no candidate attained the three-fifths majority required by the constitution.
The Velvet Revolution of November 1989, which peacefully brought to an end more than four decades of Communist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia - the federation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia - paved the way for the re-emergence of genuine multi-party systems in both countries. In the June 1990 parliamentary elections - Czechoslovakia's first free elections since 1946 - Public Against Violence and its Czech counterpart, Civic Forum, won an absolute majority of seats in the Federal Assembly.
However, both Public Against Violence and Civic Forum - umbrella movements that brought together opponents of Communist rule who held diverse political views - disintegrated after the re-establishment of parliamentary democracy. In the 1992 general elections, Civic Forum's main offshoot, the right-of-center Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of then-finance minister Václav Klaus emerged as the largest single party in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, Slovakia - which swung in the opposite direction and voted for Vladimir Meciar's left-wing, populist Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) - pressed for further devolution of powers, which would have transformed Czechoslovakia into a loose federation. This was not acceptable to the Czechs, and the two countries subsequently agreed to a peaceful separation - the so-called "Velvet Divorce." Thus, on December 31, 1992 Czechoslovakia ceased to exist, and the following day its two constituent countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia became sovereign nations.
Prime Minister Meciar was ousted from office in March 1994, after losing a parliamentary vote of confidence. However, HZDS scored a decisive victory in a parliamentary election held the following September, and by December Meciar was back in power. The increasingly autocratic Meciar - who frequently clashed with President Michal Kovac until the latter stepped down in March 1998 - remained in office until October 1998, when four opposition parties - the right-of-center Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), the post-Communist Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), the ethnically oriented Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK-MKP) and the center-left Party of Civic Understanding (SOP) reached an agreement to form a coalition government headed by SDK leader Mikulas Dzurinda, after having won an overall majority in a parliamentary election held the previous month. Meanwhile, HZDS remained the largest single party in the National Council, and in 1999 former prime minister Meciar attempted to stage a political comeback by running for Slovakia's largely ceremonial presidency. However, he was soundly defeated by Rudolf Schuster, the candidate of the ruling coalition.
HZDS remained the largest party in the September 2002 National Council election, but four center-right parties - the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK-MKP), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Alliance of the New Citizen (ANO) - secured an overall parliamentary majority, and Prime Minister Dzurinda remained in office. The 2002 parliamentary election was also notable for the collapse of the Party of the Democratic Left, which lost all its seats in the National Council, and the emergence of a new socialist party, Direction (SMER), which arrived in a strong third place, behind HZDS and SDKÚ.
Former prime minister Vladimir Meciar ran again for the presidency in 2004, and while he topped the poll in the first round of voting, he was trounced in the runoff election by former parliamentary speaker (and erstwhile ally) Ivan Gasparovic.
In the June 2006 National Council election, held three months early due to the withdrawal of KDH from Prime Minister Dzurinda's government, Direction - Social Democracy won a clear victory. SMER-SD leader Robert Fico subsequently formed a coalition government with the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS) and the People's Party - Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (LS-HZDS), with the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union - Democratic Party (SDKÚ-DS), the Hungarian Coalition Party and the Christian Democratic Movement in opposition; the Alliance of the New Citizen was wiped out in the election.
President Ivan Gasparovic won re-election in 2009 with the support of SMER and SNS, defeating former Labour, Social Affairs and Family Minister Iveta Radicova, the joint candidate of SDKÚ-DS, SMK and KDH.
Direction - Social Democracy increased both its share of the vote and number of National Council seats in the June 2010 parliamentary election, but its coalition partners fared badly; the People's Party - Movement for a Democratic Slovakia fell just below the five percent threshold and lost all its seats. In addition, two new parties secured representation in the National Council: the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and the mainly ethnic Hungarian MOST-HÍD; the latter sidelined the Hungarian Coalition Party, which also failed to cross the five percent threshold. Although the center-right parties - SDKÚ-DS, SaS, KDH and MOST-HÍD - commanded an overall parliamentary majority of eight seats, Prime Minister Fico nonetheless attempted - and failed - to form a new government; SDKÚ-DS leader Iveta Radicova then formed a coalition cabinet in July 2010, becoming Slovakia's first female head of government.
However, Prime Minister Radicova's coalition government collapsed in October 2011, when Freedom and Solidarity abstained during a confidence motion linked to ratification of measures to expand the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). The EFSF expansion package was subsequently ratified by the National Council, after the government reached a deal with the opposition to hold an early parliamentary election in March 2012.
Copyright © 2009-2012 Manuel
Álvarez-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.