Books on Slovakia
% of GDP
Update No: 088 - (27/08/04)
Since October 1998, Mikulas Dzurinda of the Slovak Democratic and Christian
Union (SDKU) has led a coalition government that included the Christian
Democratic Movement (KDH), the New Civic Alliance (ANO) and the Party of the
Hungarian Coalition (SMK). Dzurinda won a second term as prime minister in
September 2002. But he heads a minority government.
The opposition Party Direction - Third Way (Smer) is the top political
organization in Slovakia, according to a poll by OMV released by Slovak Radio.
25.4 per cent of respondents would vote for Smer in the next parliamentary
In February, outgoing president Rudolf Schuster ordered a referendum after Smer,
the Slovak Communist Party (KSS) and the Slovak Trade Unions Confederation (KOZ)
gathered more than 600,000 signatures to review the possibility of holding an
early parliamentary ballot. Turnout for the Apr. 3 plebiscite was 35.86 per
cent, well short of the required 50 per cent.
On Apr. 17, Ivan Gasparovic was elected president in a run-off over Vladimir
Meciar of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). This sees off the
longstanding bugbear of Slovakian politics, doubtless for good.
The next parliamentary election is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 2007.
A liberal party for Slovakia?
Despite the liberal outlook of many Slovaks, there is no truly liberal party in
the country. A number of different parties have tried to champion liberal
causes. However, a new party at each election seems to have become the norm for
the non-conservative, non-nationalist, non-communist and non-clerical voter.
In the 1990 general election, the first free elections after decades of
communist oppression, victory went to Public Against Violence (VPN) - a widely
popular, but greatly heterogeneous ensemble of revolutionaries, dissidents,
'reformed communists' and liberal intellectuals. The party gained nearly a third
of the 150 seats in the Slovak legislature.
Inner disputes within VPN, initially silenced by the euphoria characteristic of
revolutionary times, gradually came to the surface. In 1991, a power-struggle
led to a large portion of its members under Vladimír Meciar leaving to found
the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). Meciar was the man whose
undemocratic governing methods later led Slovakia into international isolation
and brought its integration ambitions to a halt.
In the 1992 elections the HZDS enjoyed a crushing victory, just two votes short
of gaining a majority in the Slovak parliament. At the time, Meciar was at the
apogee of his popularity and was the man of choice for even many
As Meciar's autocratic and totalitarian tendencies duly came to light in the
years to follow, other parties that made it into parliament in those elections
definitely seemed less attractive.
There was the conservative Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), the socialist
Democratic Left Party (SDL), the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS) and a
coalition of right-wing Hungarian parties.
By the 1994 preliminary elections the true face of Meciar had become clear to
most liberals and supporting him was no longer an option. Instead the Democratic
Union (DÚ) seemed a feasible alternative.
The DÚ was formed by HZDS renegades who, in the spring of 1994, staged an
internal coup in the party leading to the collapse of Meciar's government and to
the creation of an interim administration headed by DÚ boss Jozef Moravcík.
The DÚ did gain 15 seats in parliament in the elections in the fall of 1994,
but Meciar's HZDS emerged victorious taking 61 parliamentary seats.
The HZDS formed a ruling coalition with the nationalist SNS and the ultra-left
Union of Slovak Workers, which ran the country until parliamentary elections in
The primary aim of those elections was to oust Meciar from office. Six parties
besides the HZDS made it to parliament that time around.
Two of them had a clear ideology - the leftist SDL, and the nationalist SNS.
In addition, there was the centrist and ideology-free Civic Understanding Party,
formed shortly before the elections by future president Rudolf Schuster, and the
Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), a union of Christian Democrats, liberals and
Finally, there was the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), which in many ways
resembled the VPN of the early 1990s.
It was a coalition of Christian Democrats, the liberal DÚ, many of whose
members were former communists, and the politically less influential
conservative Democratic Party (DS), the Greens, and the Social Democrats.The
eclectic combination was a natural result of the Meciar threat and his tough
election legislation, and was the best choice for Slovak liberals at the time.
The SDK finished second in the election race, but since the victorious HZDS
proved unable to form a ruling coalition, the task of forming a government was
left up to SDK leader Mikuláš Dzurinda, and the SDK in effect became the
strongest political force in the country.
However, the SDK followed VPN's fate and its shaky ideological foundations
crumbled under the weight of power.
One part of the KDH withdrew from the political union, and another, headed by PM
Mikuláš Dzurinda and his long-term political ally, joined forces with the DÚ
and formed the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ).
The SDKÚ, according to the party's statues, saw its role as "achieving the
political cooperation of all people of good will, especially Christian Democrats
and liberals" - a rather untraditional combination. But the SDKÚ was not
the only quasi-liberal party that ran in the 2002 elections. Another was the New
Citizen's Alliance (ANO), founded by power-hungry media mogul and current
Economics Minister Pavol Rusko. Initial media reports indicated that Rusko would
launch a socialist party. Only later did he change his mind and the end-result
was a party working under the banner of liberalism.
Both parties made it into parliament and became part of the ruling coalition
after the 2002 elections.
However, both have had their share of problems ever since. A group led by
vice-chairman Ivan Šimko left the SDKÚ to start the Free Forum (SF). According
to the SF statutes, the SF was a created as a movement of "Christian
Democrats, conservatives, and liberals", and it can therefore be
anticipated that it will fight for liberal votes in the upcoming elections.
ANO has lost several MPs and its popular support seems to be on the decline. In
2002 ANO gained 8 percent. In the elections for the European Parliament (EP),
held in June of this year, ANO received 4.7 percent and will be the only ruling
party not to have any representative in the EP. Some ANO insiders have long
complained that with Rusko busy running the Economics Ministry, the party has
lost clear leadership and steam.
If history is anything to go by, a new party will be fighting for liberal votes
at the next elections in two years' time.
New communist party
Former member of the Slovak Communist Party (KSS) Ivan Hopta has announced
plans to launch a new communist party in Slovakia. The preparatory committee
will begin collecting signatures for a petition to institute the new communist
party in September.
Hopta informed news agency SITA that the nine-member preparatory committee,
consisting of former as well as current KSS members, will decide upon a name for
the new party by the end of August." It will be a political party, whose
aim will be to build socialism in Slovakia, via a constitutional democratic and
parliamentary way, without the mistakes of the past," said Hopta.
The members of the preparatory committee disapprove of the policy of the current
cabinet of Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, and criticise the performance of
the KSS leadership and its deputies in the Slovak Parliament. Ivan Hopta left
the KSS in mid July.
Green light for rural development plan of Slovakia
The European Union's Committee for Agriculture Structures (STAR) recently gave
its favourable opinion to the Rural Development plan (RDP) of the Slovak
Republic 2004-2006, the Commission said in a press release, New Europe reported.
Worth 561.8m Euro overall, the EU contribution will amount to 397.1m Euro during
the three-year period 2004-2006, and the rest will be complemented with Slovak
public and private financing.
Slovakia has a good tradition of farming and the country has huge forestry
potential. With this rural development plan, the EU will support Slovakia to
improve the profitability of farms, to maintain farming in less favourite areas,
to set up specific agri-environment schemes, to set up afforestation activities
and improve forest management, to help farmers meet environmental standards, the
"This plan is based on the needs of the rural population of the Slovak
countryside," Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries Commissioner,
Franz Fischler said. "It provides them with a tool box to increase their
economic viability and to step up the competitiveness of their farms," he
Slovenske airline ups passengers
Slovak airline Slovenske Aerolinie (SA) carried over 222,000 passengers last
year, as opposed to 158,000 passengers in 2002, New Europe reported.
Flights amounted to 2,092 a moderate increase against the previous year. The
airline carried about 209,000 passengers on charter flights, a solid growth of
almost 48 percent as compared with the previous year. The number of charter
flights rose by over two thirds.
SA shares up for grabs
The Slovak government has agreed to sell the state's 89.5% stake in national air
carrier Slovenske aerolinie (SA), The Slovak Spectator reported recently.
"Through the transport ministry, the state owns 89.5% of SA, accounting for
€17.1m worth of share capital. The shares should be sold to a strategic
partner," Transport Ministry spokesman Tomas Sarluska was quoted as saying.
Transport Minister Pavol Prokopovic will submit a sales plan. A tender should be
called in October or November 2004.
Istrobanka H1 profit up
Istrobanka, a medium-sized Slovak bank, reported 65.7m Slovak crowns in profit
in the first half of this year, against 47.73m crowns in the same period of
2003, Sita reported recently.
Its balance sheet stood on aggregate at 29.983bn crowns at end-June. Net
interest earnings accounted for 462.2m crowns, while revenues derived from
commissions and fees stood at 121m crowns. The bank's general operating costs
reached 304.6m crowns, Sita reported, citing data published by the company.
Istrobanka extended loans worth 13.25bn crowns, while client deposits accounted
for 18.415bn crowns.
Norsk Hydro to become InterRAO partner in SE sale
Norwegian energy company Norsk Hydro is likely to become a financial partner
in an international consortium led by the Russian company InterRAO id it wins a
tender for 66 per cent in Slovak power utility Slovenske Elektarne (SE), New
Europe has reported.
According to InterRAO representatives in Slovakia recently, there are also other
possible ways of cooperation with the Norwegian concern. One of them is that the
Norsk Hydro will become a long-term consumer of electricity generated by the
state-run SE. The state-controlled Russian investor, also known as RAO USE
International, is one of four bidders for the 66% stake in SE. As is the case
with the Czech energy company CEZ and Italian Enel, InterRAO confirmed its
interest in SE in a binding offer to the Slovak cabinet. It specified that it
was interested in acquiring all of SE, ie., including its nuclear division.
In addition to the three aforementioned companies, Verbund (Austria) also bid
for the stake in SE. But its offer is not likely to be evaluated in the first
round of the tender, as it has already said it has no intention to buy SE along
with its nuclear sources. E.ON Energie (Germany) has also declared its interest
in joining the InterRAO-led consortium, which features another German company -
Another potential member of the consortium is said to be the French nuclear
plant designer, Framatome. InterRAO is a joint venture of two Russian
state-owned companies, RAO UES Russia and Rosenergoatom, which hold respective
stakes of 60 and 40 per cent, according to reports.
Bratislava to borrow 2.5bn crowns for infrastructure revamp
Slovakia's capital, the city of Bratislava, is looking to borrow 3.5bn Slovak
crowns from commercial banks to finance municipality projects, primarily
infrastructure development, CTK News Agency reported.
City reps have approached 40 banks, requesting that they submit offers by
September 2nd. The amount of the loan was decided upon based on the acceptable
level of the city's debt at 150 per cent of current revenues and the
municipality's ability to pay interest on loans, Eva Chundinova, of city hall's
press section said.
The city of Bratislava expects revenues to remain near the current level of
4.3bn crowns and annual interest payments to amount to 250m crowns. As of early
August, Bratislava had outstanding debts worth 82.2m Euro or 3.3bn crowns. The
city is expected to pay off a loan from Wiener Staedtische worth 10.6m Euro
Budget deficit tops 18bn crowns in July
Slovakia's state budget showed a deficit of 18.55bn Slovak crowns at end-July
2004, up from 12.45bn crowns at end-June, but a decline of 12.64bn crowns from
the same period a year earlier, according to figures released by the Slovak
Finance Ministry recently, New Europe has reported.
Budget revenues for the first half of 2004 were up 9 per cent year-on-year to
139.13bn crowns. Tax revenues increased 8 per cent to 124.31bn crowns, while
non-tax revenues added 17.7 per cent to 14.82bn crowns. Concerning tax revenues,
value-added tax (VAT), excise duty and corporate income tax collection all
improved in the monitored period.
Collection of capital gains and individual income taxes, as well as customs
duties, slid. Expenditures were down by 0.7 per cent year-on-year in the first
six months to 157.68bn crowns. Payments to the European Union totalled 4.45m
crowns. Revenues for the first half amounted to 60 per cent of the projected
full-year total of 231.96bn crowns. Spending reached 51 per cent of the 310.45bn
crowns planned for full-year 2004. The state budget calls for a deficit of
78.5bn crowns this year.
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