Ivan Mikloš, deputy chairman of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the strongest opposition party, indicated he was disappointed with the response his party received on its offer to cooperate with the liberal Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS) in the parliamentary elections. SaS chairman Richard Sulík countered that his party had unambiguously accepted the SDKÚ’s offer, but on condition that SDKÚ leader Mikuláš Dzurinda, a former prime minister, would not become premier in a future SDKÚ-SaS coalition. Mr. Dzurinda is unacceptable to SaS; he has been in politics too long and consistently tops the polls of political untrustworthiness, Mr. Sulik said.
Earlier in December, Mr Dzurinda met with leaders of five other parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties – the SaS , the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), the Civic Conservative Party (OKS) and the ethnic Hungarian-based Híd-Most party – to discuss how to create a viable alternative to SMER. The meeting was a failure, dashing hopes for a six-party alliance.
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
Last month’s opinion polls show that the six opposition parties together stand a chance of beating SMER. However, their small advantage is not enough to guarantee victory, since SMER’s allies, the SNS and the HZDS, are still significantly above the 5% threshold for parliamentary representation. Furthermore, if the opposition parties were to run joint candidates, there is no guarantee that all potential voters would back them since there are significant conflicts between opposition parties (for example, between the two ethnic Hungarian parties and between the SDKÚ and the KDH). The SDKÚ, the KDH and the SMK will thus prefer to run on their own candidates, while OKS, the SaS and Hid-Most will probably sign pre-election cooperation pacts.
Following the failure of the opposition coalition talks, the SaS and Híd-Most started negotiations on cooperation. Chances are high that the two parties will be able to hammer out an agreement.
The fragmented opposition benefits Mr. Fico the most. There is no perceptible power on the opposition side. Though SMER remains the election’s probable winner, its support has begun to erode: For the first time, Mr. Fico was forced to give in to demands from organized labour (see item above). This makes SMER more vulnerable – so the outcome of the election is hardly a done deal.