Kopeček, L., & Šedo, J. (2003). Czech and Slovak political parties and their vision of European integration. Středoevropské politické studie, 5(1). Získáno z https://journals.muni.cz/cepsr/article/view/3932/5329
Konference

Středoevropské politické studie – Central European Political Studies Review

ČÍSLO 1, ROČNÍK V, JARO 2003, ISSN 1212-7817 - PART 1, VOLUME V, SPRING 2003, ISSN 1212-7817

 

 

Czech and Slovak political parties and their vision of European integration

 

Lubomír Kopeček, Jakub Šedo

 

 

Abstract

The paper concentrates on attitudes to the enlargement and the future of EU held by relevant political parties in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia in 2002. With respect to the Czech Republic, three basic approaches to the issue of EU enlargement are identified, thus classifying the Czech political parties as “consistently” pro-European, pro-European “with reservations” and anti-European.  It will be argued that in Slovakia the relevant political parties acted as “consistently” pro-European with the exception of the anti-European Slovak National Party (SNS) and the Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS). The dividing line was however rather between the parties whose representatives could be viewed by international partners as an obstacle to Slovakia’s admission to EU and the parties that were “acceptable” for foreign countries, which played an important role in rallying voters to opt for “acceptable” political subjects.

Key words

Elections, Slovakia, Czech Republic, referendum, parties, European Union

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

In 2002, i.e. in the year of intensive EU negotiations with the countries of Central Europe, parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia took place. The results of the elections, above all in Slovakia, which had been pushed into the position of an outsider already in the past owing to Mečiar’s government coalition (1994 – 1998), could have significantly influenced the enlargement negotiations. In theory, the elections may have resulted in an outcome that could seriously hinder a successful resolution of the process of integration or make it completely impossible.

The end of 2002 was marked by contradictory reactions of political elites of the two countries to the outcome of Copenhagen summit through which their accession ambitions materialized. Whereas in Slovakia the negotiated conditions of accession to EU were met by acceptance even on the part of the opposition, in the Czech Republic there was general mistrust and the government headed by the Social Democrats was heavily criticized both from the left side and the right side of the political spectrum.

The goal of this paper is not to evaluate whether the reactions to the Copenhagen summit were appropriate. It is rather to analyze the standpoints of relevant political parties towards EU  (which is significant with respect to accession referendums that will be held in both countries in the first half of 2003) and to sketch out their visions of the future of European integration. The latter is more interesting from a long-term perspective as we can discern already at the present noticeable differentiation amongst the formally “pro-integration” parties.  This trend is natural and is in fact analogical to the evolution that the political parties in different west European countries have undergone. A summary of political developments that occurred in the recent years in both countries will be first made in order to contextualize the “pro-European” attitudes of different political parties

 

Czech Republic

Among the countries from the former Soviet bloc is the Czech Republic a country with the most consolidated political scene. The vast majority of the currently significant parties have retained stable electorate support already from the mid 1990’s. In 1998 when the last election to the Chamber of Deputies (the Lower Chamber) was held five political parties secured their place in the Parliament. During the consequent four years, there were no signals that any other party could be successful in the following elections. The four-year period was marked by the rule of the minority government of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) that represents a pro-establishment Left in the Czech political space. The stability of the minority government was secured by the attitude of the strongest opposition subject, the conservative-liberal Civic Democratic Party (ODS), which in the framework of the so-called Opposition Contract committed itself to endure and tolerate to the end the minority government of ČSSD in return of the Social Democrats’ compliance with specific terms. The anti-establishment Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) was the strongest subject amongst the “non-contractual” parliamentary subjects. The government opposition consisted of the two remaining parliamentary parties: the Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party (KDU-ČSL) and the liberal Freedom Union (US). KDU-ČSL and US strengthened their cooperation during the electoral term, and in an alliance with two small right-wing subjects, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) and Democratic Union (DEU), formed a new coalition termed Four-party Coalition (Čtyřkoalice). The project was successful at the beginning giving all participants hope of winning voters’ support that would be comparable to that of ČSSD or ODS. However, at the turn of 2001/2002 the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) abandoned the Four-party Coalition due to a financial scandal. Only two parties continued cooperating afterwards: KDU-ČSL and the merged Freedom Union – Democratic Union (US-DEU). The two parties stood for the election in 2002 under a new name Coalition (Koalice).

The election ended up by ČSSD winning for the second time the majority of votes to be only followed by ODS. Surprisingly enough, KSČM gained a considerable number of votes, which was in contradiction with the pre-election surveys that indicated that the party would win with 3-5% fewer votes. KDU-ČSL and US were not very successful in the elections on the other hand. Out of the negotiations that followed the elections emerged the victorious ČSSD as the party that was to form a new government. Together with KDU-ČSL and US did then ČSSD set up a new government that was to be headed by ČSSD’s leader Vladimír Špidla. ČSSD took in the new government virtually all crucial ministries (with the exception of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which was headed by Cyril Svoboda from KDU-ČSL).

 

Table 1: The results of elections into the Chamber of Deputies (includes only parties that won more than the 5% minimum of votes)

 

Party

ČSSD

32.3

30.2

70

-4

ODS

27.7

24.5

58

-5

KSČM

11.0

18.5

41

+17

KDU-ČSL

9.0

14.3

31*

+1

US

8.6

-9

* KDU-ČSL 21, US-DEU 8 and 2 independent candidates who have become members of the US-DEU parliamentary club

 

Source: Election 2002 for the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic (http://www.volby.cz)

 

The attitude of the Czech citizens to the European Union is one of the more critical ones amongst the EU candidate countries. Support for EU membership has been merely around 50% in the long run, yet the number of objectors to the Czech membership is not as high as it may appear given the size of the group of supporters.  Almost a quarter of citizens do not have any clear standpoint towards the issue of the Czech membership in the EU, or rather they are not interested in the issue.[1]

The Czech political parties could be roughly classified and marked as “consistently” pro-European, pro-European “with reservations” and anti-European (in the sense of their resentment to the EU). The first group included before as well as after the elections the governmental ČSSD and the parties belonging to the Coalition. ČSSD has been a consistent supporter of Czech Republic’s integration into the EU. As early as 1995, the Social Democrats declared EU integration to be the priority of Czech foreign policies and they have managed to retain internal unity about this issue ever since. ČSSD considers the Czech accesssion into the EU de facto without any significant negative aspects; on the contrary, the party considers consistent participation of the country in the European structures alongside with the adoption of the norms common in member countries to be very advantageous. ČSSD put stress above all on the need to adopt European models in social welfare (the effort to implement the European Social Charter). At the same time the party saw benefits also in other fields, i.e. above all in economics (expansion of the market space for the export of Czech products that would be possible after lifting protective measures aimed at the Czech Republic, increase of foreign investment, utilization of EU financial resources – ČSSD assumed that the Czech Republic would be a beneficiary for at least 10 years). ČSSD related to possible negative impacts of integration with commitment to push through the negotiations measures that would minimize the unspecified negative impacts. In the discussions pertaining to the defense of Czech interests against the claims of EU members, ČSSD acted as a “consistent“ pro-European agent emphasizing the necessity of quick integration into the EU while it claimed that it will be possible to deal with some issues more effectively only as a EU member. This was evident for example in the discussion on the temporary restriction of workforce mobility called for by some European countries due to their anxiety about a workforce influx from the new EU member countries. ČSSD hopes that the period of validity of this measure can be shortened after the Czech Republic becomes a member of the EU.[2]

The pro-European attitude was shared and put consistently into practice by the two Coalition parties, i.e. US-DEU and KDU-ČSL. The “European” issue had a great significance for them because it was one of topics that served traditionally as a defining line against more skeptical ODS. Before the election in 2002 the Coalition called for more effective, faster and smoother implementation of European laws into the national system of law. However, the initiative was being hindered by low representation of the Coalition in the Parliament as well as by certain inconsistency in taking steps that were to emphasize its “European” dimension. Both Coalition parties share significantly similar pro-European views. They both consider EU integration not merely a question of technical implementation but also fulfillment of particular deeper ideas. In the case of KDU-ČSL, we may speak about Christian-democratic ideas, for US-DEU is EU integration a proof of recurring and unchallengeable reunion with the part of civilization that the country was once torn apart from (Mareš 2000: 28 – 29).

Apart from perceiving positively the Czech accession to the EU, both parties supported also further deepening of the integration, which they saw especially in strengthening the powers of the European Parliament. The Coalition differed from the pro-European stance of ČSSD by laying emphasis on other different topics. Instead of putting emphasis on the social dimension of European integration, the Coalition generally accentuated democratic principles associated with European civilization, i.e. the principles that will be better and more consistently shared by the Czech citizens after their accession into EU (i.e. participation in an environment that has longer continuity of protecting human rights, with freedom of movement in wider space). Importance was obviously given also to economic issues (i.e. larger markets, other countries’ experience acquired through ascension into EU) as well as to the overall betterment of Czech foreign policies’ standing after the ascension (i.e. capacity to actively shape new norms which would be imposed upon the Czech Republic if it intended to share in the European market).[3]

ODS was amongst the significant parties the only one which we could describe as pro-European “with reservations” while paradoxically the majority of its voters had been in a long run supporting EU accession in the late 1990’s (the number of accession supporters was in fact the greatest within ODS and ODA alternatively, or in US as the case may be). In general, the party has been supporting entrance into the EU in the previous years, yet at the same time it has criticized the state in which EU finds itself nowadays, i.e. predominately the social dimension of European integration and the possibility of further deepening the integration. ODS is more in favour of a Europe characterized by distinct nation states. What has been perceived by ODS as a more positive aspect of the process of integration is the possibility of participating and sharing in greater economic space and taking over those parts of the European law which are considered beneficial for the country by ODS. Negative perceptions of EU consisted in anxiety about social and tax unification, threat to the Czech statehood posed by supranational structures, and about the conception of “Europe of Regions”[4].

ODS has also often criticized the stance of “consistently” pro-European parties and the tactics that the Czech representatives adopted during the negotiations on terms of EU ascension. Since there were many statements made by ODS officials which were limited mostly to criticism of the EU and consistent supporters of integration, the attitude of ODS became a pretext for the “consistently” pro-European subjects to charge ODS with being anti-European in reality. The charge was partially based on some steps that ODS had taken, such as for instance publication of the “Manifesto of Czech Eurorealism”, which was an outline of political alternatives that the country could pursue in case of EU’s refusal to accept the Czech Republic as its member. It is impossible to make an impartial assessment of the “consistently” pro-European parties’ criticism. On the one hand, ODS has never unconditionally refuted membership in the EU, on the other hand, it conditioned its support of Czech Republic’s membership before the end of admission negotiations by fulfillment of terms that were for the west European countries clearly unacceptable.

ODS subjected the arranged terms of EU accession to heavy criticism proclaiming them demeaning and very difficult to accept; yet it did not stand up openly against the accession. The question remains of what the attitude of ODS will be like shortly before the referendum. Despite the critical rhetoric a considerable portion of ODS voters, members and party officials have continued showing positive attitude to Czech membership in the EU. While this kind of attitude in the ranks of ODS has not been medialized as noticeably as some declarations of “eurosceptics” in ODS, it will without doubt have a considerable impact on the party’s decision making (Mareš 2000: 19).

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) can be labeled as an anti-European party as its willingness to support the idea of Czech membership in the EU presupposes a radical change in the nature of the EU. Though the party officials have not made any radical statements on the issue of European integration, the restrained attitude derives rather from the effort to keep an impression of the presence of internationalism in the party’s political program. As such, the program would be easily challengeable if the idea of European integration was openly refuted. Apart from that, the anti-European character of KSČM tends to recede to the background because aversion to the EU does not constitute for the party a major political topic and critical remarks voiced in discussions on the EU are not commented upon by media as often as on the eurosceptic remarks of ODS officials. In this sense, rather than drawing from a certain stance of the party officials, the anti-EU orientation of KSČM derives more from opinions of grass-root members and party sympathizers. KSČM’s own program and campaign has referred to the issue of accession only marginally, and the party has demanded with relative realism consistent defense of national interests throughout the negotiations. At the same time, the statements were made as if the party knew that most probably it would not have an opportunity to exert any influence over the final phase of the pre-ascension talks.[5]

It has been already indicated that the 2002 elections led to forming of a governmental coalition of “consistently” pro-European parties (ČSSD, KDU-ČSL, US-DEU). Nevertheless, in comparison with 1998 a significant rise in power of the anti-integration oriented KSČM could be ascertained, even if the rise was minimally affected by its electorate’s anxiety about possible negative effects of the integration. KSČM’s strategy rested above all in a negative campaign aiming at social and economic policies of the post-1989 governments. Such strategy attracted the voters who out of different reasons were or felt afflicted by consequences of the transformation of economy. The competition in the elections was dominated by other issues rather than by the EU issue, and as the matter of fact, no party based its election campaign primarily on its positive perception of EU. Marginal formations which attempted to base their presentation in the first place on a consistently disapproving stance failed completely (perhaps the most fervent anti-EU party was the Common Sense Party (Strana zdravého rozumu) which gained just 0,22% of votes).

 

Slovakia

The Slovak party system is not consolidated when compared to the system of the Czech Republic. As the matter of fact, each election is accompanied by extensive turnover of party agents (The Slovak party system is however not any special due to the above mentioned fact – cf. for instance a similar situation in the neighbouring Poland). Out of the seven parties which succeeded in the parliamentary elections of September 2002 (i.e. surpassed the 5% closing clause) were founded only after the preceding elections in 1998, which is the case with Směr, Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), New Civic Alliance (ANO), or they had not been successful in elections in the past, which is the case of Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS). Only three parliamentary formations, i.e. Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) a Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), enjoy longer parliamentary continuity.

When speaking about several general reasons which led to an election of “old”[6] parliamentary formations – for instance the Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ), the Party of Civic Understanding (SOP) or the Slovak National Party (SNS) – it is necessary to mention at least the two most important ones which are closely interconnected. Firstly, there occurred party secessions that led to forming new political subjects. In this way for instance the party “Směr” was founded by the former vice chairman of the post-communist SDĽ Robert Fico in 1999. While being left oriented with social democratic inclinations, i.e. the party officially promoted orientation on Blair’s “New Center”, Směr has partially replaced Slovak post-communists in the party spectrum (cf. SDĽ’s election results in 1998 and those of Směr from 2002 in Table 2). As regards the party’s approach to voters, its appeal contained a significant trace of social populism.

Second reason that relates to the governmental formations has to do with heterogeneity of Mikuláš Dzurinda’s government coalition in 1998 – 2002. The coalition consisted of the Party of Civic Understanding (SDK), Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), SDĽ and SOP. It emerged as a consequence of political polarization in Slovakia in the second half of the 1990’s, which was effected by the political style of the “founding father“ of the Slovak state and the chairman of the most important political formation, the centrist HZDS, Vladimír Mečiar. His confrontational behaviour and methods led to unnatural groupings of completely differing political subjects. This alliance began soon to generate conflicts within the first governmental coalition of Mikuláš Dzurinda and it produced the above-mentioned secessions of dissatisfied members as well as founding new political formations.

SDK, the most powerful governmental subject, was a modified case of the trends described earlier. SDK was in fact a small-scale copy of the government coalition, i.e. it comprised several different political parties – Christian-democratic, liberal, liberal-conservative, environmental, social-democratic. Due to internal conflicts within the party Mikuláš Dzurinda, SDK’s leader and the prime minister, founded a new formation called SDKÚ. The new party formally declared itself as center-right drawing on Christian-democratic, conservative and liberal values. Only the right-to-center oriented (yet internally much more traditionalist) KDH did enjoy success in the 2002 election from within the founding subjects of SDK.  The single party of Dzurinda’s government coalition from 1998 – 2002 that has remained internally stable was the Hungarian SMK. The key integrative element for SMK became its particular regional identity related to representation of Hungarian minority’s interests in southern Slovakia.

When considering the election results of 2002 (Table 2) it is necessary to point out that while the success of the liberal ANO (which relied in the campaign on large support of several influential media, the most important being the private TV Markíza, the co-owner of which is the party leader Pavol Rusko) was generally expected, the achievement of the communists was a surprise. KSS defines itself as a Marxist-Leninist formation as well as the successor of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (i.e. the party that had been ruling in Czechoslovakia before 1989). Its orthodox profile makes it even more bound with the Communist regime of Czechoslovakia than the Czech KSČM that refuses to accept a similar relation to the regime. The election result of the Slovak communist may be interpreted as a consequence of dissatisfaction on the part of Slovak peripheries – eastern and partially center Slovakia where they won most of the votes and where negative economic and social phenomena developed in the course of the 1990’s (high unemployment, lowering of living standards during social and economic transformation etc.) Nevertheless, KSS found itself due to its firm anti-establishment profile in a position of an ostracized agent within the party system.

Out of post-election negotiations quickly emerged the structure of a new government coalition that consisted of SDKÚ, SMK, KDH and ANO. There remained continuity in the position of the government leader and thus Mikuláš Dzurinda became Prime Minister again. With respect to political agenda is Dzurinda’s second government markedly more homogeneous than the first one despite differences amongst the parties relating even to conceptions of the future nature of the EU. HZDS, the formal winner of the election, was not included in coalition talks and thus similarly to 1998 the party found itself in the position of a politically isolated subject.  Under such circumstances, there was no need to bring in Směr to form a government, which could lean on a majority support and as such, Směr ended up in opposition too.

 

Table 2: Slovak Parliament election results (includes only parties that won more than the minimum of 5% of votes at least in one election)

 

Party

Votes (%) in 1998

Mandates in 1998

Votes (%) in 2002

Mandates in 2002

HZDS

27

43

19,5

36

SDK

26,3

42

-

-

SDĽ

14,7

23

1,3*

-

SMK

9,1

15

11,2

20

SNS

9,1

14

3,3

-

SOP

8

13

-*

-

KSS

2,8

-

6,3

11

SDKÚ

-

-

15,1

28

Směr

-

-

13,5

25

KDH

-**

-

8,3

15

ANO

-

-

8

15

* Common ballot of SDĽ, SOP a the Social Democratic Party in Slovakia (SDSS)

** KDH did not run in the election in 1998 giving support to SDK 

 

Source: Štatistický úrad SR (http://www.statistics.sk); The table was taken over from Balík, Kopeček 2002 (adopted)

 

 

In the electoral period of 1998 – 2002, there was consensus amongst the parliamentary parties on the necessity of Slovak quick accession into EU. This fact corresponded with long-term support of EU membership, in favour of which are two thirds of the Slovak citizens and only between one fourth and one fifth disagree with it (Gyarfášová, Velšic 2002: 274). The Slovak National Party was the only openly anti-European formation. Though SNS’s election programs gave verbal support to EU accession (including the 2002 election program) (Liďák,  Koganová, Leška, 1999: 107)  there were a great number of additional contesting comments which stressed economic and national risks involved in the integration. The actual language of SNS leaders was clearly disfavourable of the integration prospects. For instance, in 1997 Ján Slota, the SNS party leader of that time, labeled the process of European integration in the post-Maastricht period as perverted (Mesežnikov 1998: 70). Break-up of the party in 2001, which was brought about by personal animosities in the party leadership, did however remove the “national” stream of Slovak politics from the Parliament (SNS won 3,3% votes and the splinter Genuine Slovak National Party with an almost identical program won 3,7% votes).

Nevertheless, there was another anti-European formation that made it into the Parliament in the 2002 elections – it was the Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS). From its foundation in 1992, the party has given only minor attention to the issue of EU accession in its program documents. The texts were restricted to general statements such as “participation in the integration processes has to be equal and it must not be an economic annexation.“[7] The unclear standpoint of KSS was however delineated by the tone of KSS’ magazine Úsvit. The articles on the issue of Slovak accession and the character of the EU were univocally negative.  In terms of the 2002 election program (as well as the character of the pre-election campaign) we may identify continuity in KSS’ communist inclinations while there has been certain elaboration on the party political stances. On the one hand, KSS expressed support of EU accession, yet on the other hand the support was followed by asserting that the issue of EU accession will be relevant only after Slovakia “is unquestionably ready to face it.“[8] The latter combined with a determination to consistently assert the national interest makes it clear that KSS’ standpoint is practically identical to that of SNS. Similar to KSČM the “European“ topic rather played a minor role during KSS’ election campaign of 2002; what stood out instead was the way the communists presented their resistance to Slovakia’s joining NATO.

The programs of the other political parties which were successful in 2002 elections (despite the above outlined profound transformation of the party system) are characteristic of a continuing consensus on the necessity of EU accession. The situation has been however problematic both before the elections in 2002 and after due to the former negative experience with the engagement of the biggest Slovak party HZDS in the government. Between 1994 – 1998 it was the government coalition lead by “consistently” pro-European HZDS together with SNS and the radically left-wing Association of Slovak Workers (Sdružení dělníků Slovenska), the program of which was very similar to that of KSS in many areas, that brought Slovakia into international isolation. During several months before the 2002 elections there had been clear signals coming both from EU representatives and the individual member states calling into question Slovak chances of EU integration if a government with participation of HZDS was formed. This fact had a strong impact on the post-election negotiations out of which HZDS emerged as a party with no coalition-building potential. In this sense, the massive election campaign of HZDS did not bear fruit however much it focused on asserting HZDS’ strongly pro-European (and pro-NATO) standpoints. As regards the future, noteworthy is HZDS’ vision of Europe perceived as a continent of national states.[9]

From the viewpoint of HZDS’ approach to the “European” question, there is yet one more potential risk that is of interest. HZDS was founded (1991) as a subject that comprised several political streams (social-democratic, neoliberal, national-traditionalist and others). In spite of several secessions that the party has undergone, HZDS’ program heterogeneity went unchanged to an important degree. With respect to the issue of integration, the attitude of the “national-traditionalist” wing of HZDS was significantly important as it was close to SNS. To document this we may mention the best-known representative of SNS Augustín Marián Húska who declared that there is an ideological threat involved in Slovakia’s approaching to the globalized, cosmopolitan and consumerist West which he labeled as neopagan (Cf. Kopeček, Urubek 2000: 91). In spite of having got rid of the representatives of the above-mentioned wing from the party leadership, which was carried out to improve a pro-West image of HZDS after 1998, we cannot rule out the possibility of recurring eurosceptic elements in HZDS profile.

Interesting while not “monochromatic” is the position of another current party in opposition – Směr. Similarly to SNS or KSS it is possible to ascertain greater emphasis on securing Slovakia’s national interests, which does not however mean that Směr calls Slovak membership in EU into question. On the contrary, the party has been taking the EU membership to be Slovakia’s vital interest ever since the party’s inception.[10] Nevertheless, Směr wishes the entry into EU to be mutually advantageous and dignified while the principles of equality and national sovereignty would be maintained. Směr has repeatedly criticized sharply the first Dzurinda’s government for its incapacity to negotiate with EU bodies and for unjustified giving in to EU claims during conclusions of individual entry chapters (cf. especially the agriculture and energy chapters). In this sense, Směr’s critical edge intensified during the election campaign of 2002. Due to its emphasis on national interests and national identity the party does not fit in the paradigm of eurooptimism that aims at intensifying the process of integration, which is on the other hand a standpoint shared by the pro-establishment Left in the neighbouring countries (i.e. the Czech Social Democrats and the Polish and Hungarian post-communists). The single experience of being in opposition, which Směr has had so far, did not play a major role in its expected critical stance towards government’s activities.  It may be at the same time a speculation to claim that Směr relies on a certain wave of euroscepticism amongst voters, which could be generated by their lost belief in socioeconomic improvement that some of them relate to EU accession. In this regard, it is probable that the so far unspecified attitude towards a vision of EU future could proceed to the idea of Europe as a territory of national states.

Four left-to-center and center parties which made up the second Dzurinda’s government after 2002 election, i.e. SDKÚ, SMK, KDH and ANO, share “consistently” pro-European orientation. Yet, even among those parties there are significant differences in how they see the future of EU. Dzurinda’s SDKÚ presented itself during the 2002 election campaign as the key guarantee of accession while it received great support from abroad on this issue. An array of EU representatives as well as individual member states expressed in their statements unambiguous understanding of Dzurinda’s continuing engagement as prime minister as an assurance of Slovakia’s smooth EU accession (the same was true for Slovak role in NATO enlargement even to a greater extent). This fact had an obvious impact on the surprisingly large number of votes for SDKÚ (over 15% of votes – cf. Table 2). SDKÚ expressed via the statements of its representatives the notion that EU accession will meet expectations of voters in social and economic matters while it avoided mentioning problems that will simultaneously arise out of the accession. In terms of the party’s vision of the future, there is an important assumption of gradual intensification of European integration (together with an increase in powers of European institutions) in the election program. Furthermore, SDKÚ declared support of drafting a European constitution and adopting EU Charter of Fundamental Rights[11]. Dzurinda’s party promotes the goal of Slovak joining Western value world.[12]

A similar yet modified view is represented by KDH that is otherwise very close in terms of their programs.  In the course of 1990’s when the former KDH leader Ján Čarnogurský repeatedly advocated the need to retain national sovereignty after joining the EU, KDH adopted a more cautious approach to EU integration. Nevertheless, the exact specification of that approach cannot be brought up through analyzing KDH’s program documents. In the last document of this kind, i.e. the 2002 election program, only “preservation of sovereignty of national states in cultural and ethical matters” is mentioned.[13] It is however probable that after EU accession a traditional element of party identity will prevail within KDH and that is accent on preservation of Slovak national interests. The party will under such circumstances lean onto the side of eurosceptic formations in the political spectrum (although it is not likely to occupy such anti-EU positions as KSS or SNS do).

Political ideas of SMK are also differentiated. SMK program does not explicitly specify its vision of EU. Yet, we may identify SMK’s future orientation from the way it relates to foreign issues. The party as a representative of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia assumes that the process of decentralization will intensify in Slovakia, which is linked to an increase in international cooperation (at the level of regional self-governments).[14] In the background, there is an effort to strengthen ties between Slovak Hungarians and Hungarians in Hungary to the maximal possible degree. SMK thus tends to lean on the idea of Europe of regions. Nevertheless, the party is not likely to find common understanding of this idea amongst the contemporary political agents.

The character of “European” orientation of the smallest party of the current government ANO has been very unclear so far. Given the vagueness of statements made by the party officials we cannot foretell precisely its future character and orientation.

The results of the 2002 elections in Slovakia can be viewed as very beneficial for the country and EU enlargement in general. Those parties that expressed support of EU accession did succeed in the elections. The only anti-European party, KSS, is in the contemporary system of political parties completely isolated and its potential to blackmail is in terms of the election results (6.3% of votes) very small. Omitting HZDS during the formation of the second Dzurinda’s government was received positively outside the country. As regards the EU accession referendum in 2003, the Slovak entry into EU seems to be almost problem-free given the support that joining EU enjoys amongst Slovak citizens. A more interesting issue of the character of political parties shaped in relation to the “European” question will be analyzed in the final part of the paper.

 

Conclusion 

The election results of 2002, both in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia, have significantly sustained continuity of rule for a great number of existing ruling elites. This fact had an impact on the success of the pre-entry negotiations, though assessment of the negotiated arrangements greatly differs in both countries as it has been pointed out earlier. It is important that the “referendum year” of 2003 will be characteristic of KSČM and KSS, the two main representatives of the anti-European political current, being isolated and having limited political potential (limited yet not insignificant). Furthermore, neither party has ventured to make their animosity towards the EU the main topic of their programs and the means of self-definition.  In the short run of the first half of 2003, there is apparently no prospect of emergence of a new influential anti-integration political stream both in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia. Especially in the Czech Republic, there has been a discernible tendency in decrease in the support of EU amongst the Czech citizens in the end of 2002, which may constitute one of possible referendum risks. To analyze an impact of this trend on the actual accession referendum is however not the aim of this paper.

Another issue worth a brief assessment is the earlier-mentioned differences between conceptions of European integration amongst the individual political parties. There are considerable differences in between the two countries. In the case of the Czech Republic, clear ideas of the future EU had been formed already before the 2002 parliamentary elections. Although there is not a full consensus within some parties (as is the case with ODS) and there will be probably some shifts, all parties are currently assuming relatively clear standpoints. Contrary to this, clearly identifiable standpoints of most significant parties in Slovakia   are missing. The political stances of most of them are restricted to declarations of support of EU accession while they lack ideas of how to address the issue of increasing EU integration. The reason for this lies in “having to catch up with the European train” which Slovakia had to face in the aftermath of Mečiar’s government coalition (1998). Under such circumstances, there was much less time and energy to elaborate on the parties’ attitudes to the issue of EU integration. It is, however, possible to deduce from the parties’ programs in what direction their “European” attitudes will proceed. We may assume that after entry into EU, in the face of new realities, the “pro-integration” standpoint of significant party agents will have to be redefined, to a greater degree in Slovak conditions and to a lesser degree in the Czech political environment, and it is not a paradox that we may expect this kind of standpoint to rise in importance within the political discourse.

The last remark should be made about questions, which could become topical at the level of political party system at the time of Czech and Slovak accession into EU in 2004. In the case of the Czech Republic there is a possibility that different opinions within ODS about the process European integration will come to the fore. In spite of fewer chances for this to happen, which is due to replacement of Václav Klaus with more pro-European oriented Mirek Topolánek in ODS’ leadership, it is necessary to consider the „European“ question to be a possible source of conflicts within this second most significant Czech political formation. On the other hand, a certain amount of skepticism about EU integration is necessary so that foundation of a new right-wing party competing with ODS would be eliminated. Such a party could define itself and draw from the “euroskeptical” platform. In the case of the current government coalition of ČSSD, KDU-ČSL and US, the relationship within the coalition sustained by the parties’ “consistently” pro-European orientation can certainly dissolve. 

As regards Slovakia, it is necessary to bring up the question of how the Europe-oriented attitudes of individual parties will develop in relation with the process of EU integration and its future development. Given the latter together with other phenomena such as above all the social impact of extensive reforms that were initiated by Dzurinda’s government, the current government coalition may face the threat of disintegration. Under the circumstances, it is possible to speculate that the issue of the defense of national sovereignty could, in the perspective of the next electoral period, bring about formation of new political alliances between those subjects which assume different positions in the party system nowadays (for instance HZDS and KDH).

Considering the Parliamentary election in 2006, we cannot rule out that the fundamentally anti-EU stream in politics may gain in strength. If we look at election results of the split “national” stream, which comprises the Slovak National Party and the Genuine Slovak National Party, from the Parliamentary elections of 2002 we will realize that both parties could have surpassed the 5% minimum of votes had they put in common ballot. Hence the “national” stream may gain in importance if it gets to be unified, which remains an open question. With KSS remaining in the Parliament, there is a possibility that a strong anti-EU bloc could arise.

 

Literature:

 

Balík, S., Kopeček, L. (2002): Slovenské volby 2002 – překročení Rubikonu?, Středoevropské politické studie, roč. IV., č. 4 (http://www.iips.cz/seps.html)

Gyarfášová, O., Velšic, M. (2002): Verejná mienka, in: Kollár, M., Mesežnikov, G. (eds.): Slovensko 2001, Súhrnná správa o stave spoločnosti, Bratislava, IVO, pp. 241 - 284

Kopeček, L. (2000): Radikální levice ve slovenské politice: Komunistická strana a Sdružení dělníků Slovenska, Politologický časopis, roč. VII., č. 4, pp. 440 - 460

Kopeček, L., Urubek, T. (2000): Slovenská republika, in: Dančák, B., Mareš, M. (eds.): Zahraniční politika politických stran v České republice, Maďarsku, Polsku a na Slovensku Brno, MPÚ, pp. 86 – 113

Liďák, J., Koganová, V., Leška, D. (1999): Politické strany a hnutia na Slovensku po roku 1989, Bratislava, Ekonóm

Mareš, M. (2000): Česká republika, in: Dančák, B., Mareš, M. (eds.): Zahraniční politika politických stran v České republice, Maďarsku, Polsku a na Slovensku, Brno, MPÚ, pp. 12 - 39

Mesežnikov, G. (1998): Vnútorná politika. in: Bútora, M., Ivantyšyn, M. (eds.): Slovensko 1997. Súhrnná správa o stave spoločnosti a trendoch na rok 1998, Bratislava, IVO, pp. 19 - 98

Wlachovský, M.: Zahraničná politika, in: Mesežnikov, G. (1998): Voľby 1998. Analýza volebných programov politických strán a hnutí, Bratislava, IVO, pp. 63 – 76

 

Electronic party sources (as of December 2002) (for printed party sources see footnotes)

 

New Civic Alliance - Aliance nového občana (http://ano-aliancia.sk)

Czech Social Democratic Party - Česká strana sociálně demokratická (http://www.socdem.cz)

Movement for a Democratic Slovakia - Hnutí za demokratické Slovensko (http://www.hzds.sk)

Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia - Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy (http://www.kscm.cz)

Communist Party of Slovakia - Komunistická strana Slovenska (http://www.kss.sk)

Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party  -Křesťanskodemokratická unie – Československá strana lidová (http://www.kdu.cz)

Christian Democratic Movement - Křesťanskodemokratické hnutí (http://www.kdh.sk)

Civic Democratic Party - Občanská demokratická strana (http://www.ods.cz)

Slovak Democratic and Christian Union - Slovenská demokratická a křesťanská unie (http://www.sdkuonline.sk)

Direction - Směr (http://www.strana-smer.sk)

Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic - Statistický úřad SR (http://www.statistics.sk)

Party of the Hungarian Coalition  - Strana maďarské koalice (http://www.smk.sk)

Freedom Union – Demokratická unie (http://www.unie.cz)

Volby do Poslanecké sněmovny Parlamentu České republiky v roce 2002 (http://www.volby.cz)

 

List of abbreviations for political parties 

 

Czech Republic

 

ČSSD - Česká strana sociálně demokratická – Czech Social Democratic Party

KSČM - Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy – Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia

ODA - Občanská demokratická alliance – Civic Democratic Alliance

ODS - Občanská demokratická strana – Civic Democratic Party

SPR-RSČ - Sdružení pro republiku - Republikánská strana Československa - Association for the Republic - Republican Party of Czechoslovakia

US – Unie svobody – Freedom Union

 

Slovakia

 

ANO – Aliance nového občana – New Civic Alliance

HZDS - Hnutí za demokratické Slovensko - Movement for a Democratic Slovakia

KDH - Křesťanskodemokratické hnutí - Christian Democratic Movement

KSS - Komunistická strana Slovenska – Communist Party of Slovakia

SDK - Slovenská demokratická koalice – Slovak Democratic Coalition

SDKÚ - Slovenská demokratická a křesťanská unie - Slovak Democratic and Christian Union

SDĽ – Strana demokratické levice – Party of the Democratic Left

SMK - Strana maďarské koalice - Hungarian Coalition Party

SOP – Strana občanského porozumění – Party of Civic Understanding

PSNS – Pravá slovenská národní strana – The Genuine Slovak National Party

 


[1]Annotations

 

1. See for example a survey of the Center for Empirical Research carried out in the end of August 2002 (http://www.stem.cz/index.php?id=339&tisk=1&url=source_clanky/339/index.php)

[2]2. Dokumenty strany – Volební program a Střednědobý program ČSSD (http://www.socdem.cz)

[3]3. Volební program 2002 (http://www.kdu.cz/KDUDNES/default.htm).

[4]4. Informační materiály. Vstup do EU je naší prioritou (http://www.ods.cz).

[5]5. Volební program KSČM (http://www.kscm.cz/show.php?leve_menu/aktuality/volby_2002/vp_2002.htm)

[6]6. The attribute “old“ needs to be considered sparingly in certain contexts. For example SOP was founded shortly before the 1998 elections, which is similar with the quasi-coalition formation Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK).

[7]7. Program KSS 1994. Cf.. Kopeček 2000: 447

[8]8. Volebný program KSS. (2002) (http://www.kss.sk/program.php)

[9]9. Volebný program HZDS 2002 (Election program 2002)

[10]10.  Programové tézy (http://www.strana-smer.sk/program/)

[11]11. Cf. Volebný manifest SDKÚ (2002) (http://www.sdkuonline.sk/manifest.php3)

[12]12. Programová východiska SDKÚ – (http://www.sdkuonline.sk/prog_vych.php3)

[13]13. Volebný program KDH 2002 (http://www.kdh.sk/vprogram.htm)

[14]14. Cf. SMK’s volebný program 1998 a 2002.



Copyright (c) 2003 Lubomír Kopeček, Jakub Šedo

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