RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 187, 28 September 1998
CZECH CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS' LEADER RESIGNS. Josef Lux,
chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, resigned on 24
September from all his positions for health reasons, CTK
reported. Lux told journalists that he is suffering from
chronic leukemia and that doctors are looking for suitable
donors of bone marrow. Lux will be replaced as party leader
and as chairman of the Christian Democratic group in the
Chamber of Deputies by party deputy chairman Jan Kasal until
a new chairman is elected. In other news, Czech Defense
Minister Vladimir Vetchy on 25 September told journalists in
Vilamoura, Portugal, that NATO must admit Slovakia into the
alliance. Vetchy said that the "gap" created between Slovakia
and its neighbors after the admission of the Czech Republic,
Hungary, and Poland into the organization is "unfortunate".
SLOVAKIA OPTS FOR POLITICAL CHANGE. Unofficial results of the
25-26 September Slovak parliamentary elections show that
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia (HZDS) is the strongest party in the 150-seat
legislature, with 27 percent of the vote and 43 seats. The
only party prepared to enter into a coalition with the HZDS
is the Slovak National Party, which garnered 9.07 percent
and won 14 seats; their combined mandates are insufficient
for a parliamentary majority. The Party of the Democratic
Left (SDL), which won 14.66 percent (23 seats), said it will
support the united opposition. With 26.33 percent and 42
seats, the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) came a strong
second to the HZDS. Together with the SDL, the Hungarian
Coalition (9.12 percent and 15 seats) and the party of Civic
Understanding (8.01 percent, 13 seats), the opposition
commands a 93-seat majority. MS
HUNGARY, ROMANIA DISCUSS MINORITY UNIVERSITY. Visiting
Romanian Foreign Ministry state secretary Mihai Razvan
Ungureanu told his Hungarian counterpart, Zsolt Nemeth, that
the Romanian parliament will probably support the
establishment of a Hungarian-German "multicultural
university" in Transylvania, Hungarian media reported on 25
September. Nemeth expressed his hopes that a solution meeting
the demands of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania
to remain in the Romanian governing coalition will soon be
RUSSIAN MAFIA MEETS ZHIRINOVSKY IN BUDAPEST? Several Russian
mafia leaders have recently met in Budapest with Russian
extreme right politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, "Nepszava"
reported on 26 September, citing secret service sources.
Zhirinovsky reportedly met with Semen Mogilievich, whom
Western media have called "the mafia kingpin of Eastern
Europe." The Hungarian secret services monitored the meetings
and the talks. MSZ
OPPOSITION WINS SLOVAK ELECTIONS
by Jolyon Naegele
The defeat of Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's
populist-nationalist coalition in parliamentary elections on
25-26 September presents the democratic opposition with its
best opportunity since 1990 to turn the political tide and
put Slovakia firmly on the road to European integration and
Four opposition parties won a constitutional majority of
93 of the 150 seats in the Slovak parliament. Within hours
after preliminary election results were announced on 27
September, the leaders of those parties began roundtable
talks on forming a stable coalition government.
Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS),
which took first place, just seven-tenths of a percentage
point ahead of the largest opposition party, the Slovak
Democratic Coalition (SDK), is expected to go into opposition
with its partner, the Slovak National Party (SNS). Meciar has
repeatedly said he will not form a minority government.
The main opposition force, the SDK won 26.33 percent of
the vote and 42 parliamentary seats. The post-communist Party
of the Democratic Left (SDL) gained over 14 percent and 23
seats, the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) over 9 percent and
15 seats, and the populist center-left Party of Civic
Understanding (SOP) won 8 percent and 13 seats.
Together, the four opposition parties have 93 seats,
three more than the three-fifths majority required to amend
The man most likely to succeed Meciar as Prime Minister,
SDK chairman Mikulas Dzurinda, says the election outcome
shows that "Slovakia wants a change, a different orientation,
and an end to constant confrontation." Dzurinda is 43 years
old, a Christian Democrat, and former transportation
minister. He is a close associate of former Prime Minister
and ex-dissident Jan Carnogursky.
Dzurinda or whoever eventually becomes prime minister
will have the difficult task of stopping Slovakia's economic
slide downward and eastward, disentangling the country from
its very close economic and defense industry ties with
Russia, and re-establishing solid relations with the West.
The new government will have to implement measures, some of
them likely to be unpopular belt-tightening ones, to enable
Slovakia to become a legitimate candidate for EU and NATO
Parliamentary speaker and Meciar associate Ivan
Gasparovic has 30 days to call the new parliament into
session, after which, he says, the current Meciar government
The new parliament will have to elect a new president.
The four parties have the votes to elect whomever they can
agree on among themselves. Slovakia has been without a
president since March, when Michal Kovac's five-year term
expired. Ever since, Meciar's HZDS repeatedly prevented any
candidate from being elected.
The outgoing speaker of parliament, Gasparovic, says the
election outcome is a "mirror image" of parliamentary
elections in Romania nearly two years ago, which resulted in
an end to strong-arm, post-communist rule and the coming to
power of the democratic opposition, including the ethnic
Hungarian party. HZDS deputy chairman Sergej Kozlik told
reporters that the HZDS is a "standard" party and will go
into opposition in the event it fails to form a majority
In an important signal to the international community,
the current opposition leaders agreed in roundtable talks on
27 September that the SMK should be in the government. Anti-
Hungarian sentiment has been traditionally strong in Slovak
politics, and the nationalist SNS once again played the
Hungarian card during the campaign for these elections. The
international community has been critical of the Meciar
government's treatment of the Hungarian minority, which
numbers more than half a million and inhabits a compact area
of rural southern Slovakia.
In another important signal, the chairman of the post-
communist SDL, Jozef Migas, said his party will do everything
to ensure the formation of a functional government that will
ensure post-election stability in Slovakia. After years of
flirting with the idea of forming a coalition with HZDS,
Migas has finally ruled out that idea. In his words, "the
government must be functional and majority."
Despite predictions of election tampering,
representatives of all parties said the two-day vote took
place freely and fairly. International observers, however,
were a little more reserved, criticizing the campaign,
particularly the government's attempt through last-minute
legislation to stave off an opposition victory.
A preliminary report issued by the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Bratislava on 27
September said that "although an atmosphere of political
polarization led to a lack of confidence in the overall
process by many Slovak citizens, the election as such was
carried out in an apparently correct and acceptable manner."
Voter participation was almost 85 percent. The head of
the Council of Europe monitoring delegation, Franciszek
Adamczyk of Poland, praised the high turnout, saying it
reflects a belief in the fundamental values of democracy.
'The elections do reflect the will of the people," he
The author is an RFE/RL correspondent.
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