Direction – Social Democracy

Published 31st January, 2012

Direction – Social Democracy or Smer was founded in 1999 by Robert Fico as a breakaway movement from the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) (which subsequently was dissolved and merged with Direction in 2005). Originally named Direction, the party changed its name to Direction – Social Democracy in 2005. It describes itself as a centre-left party and believes in social democracy, left-wing nationalism and left-wing populism.

In its first electoral outing in 2002 Smer did not do as well as expected and came in third place with 25 seats in the 150 seat National Council. Soon after the election they merged with the party of Civic Understanding (SOP) and in 2005 with the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), the Social Democratic Alternative and Social Democratic Party of Slovakia (SDSS).

In 2006 the hard work in combining smaller parties of the left in previous years paid dividends and Smer won 50 seats, becoming the largest party and forming a coalition government with the People’s Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the Slovak National Party (SNS). As a consequence of this coalition Smer was temporarily suspended from membership of the Party of European Socialists (PES) because PES considered the SNS to be a party that incited or attempted to incite racial or ethnic prejudices; Smer were readmitted in 2008.

In 2010 the party did very well and took 62 of the 150 seats in the National Council. Although they were the largest party in parliament their coalition partners were decimated, a coalition government centred on the SDKÚ-DS of Iveta Radičová was formed and Smer went in to opposition.

By late 2011 Radičová’s government was in trouble as one minor coalition partner failed to support the government over the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). The government lost the vote and were only able to pass the bill after Robert Fico had done a deal which called for an election in March 2012.

Direction – Social Democracy is a member of Socialist International, the Party of European Socialists and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament where they hold five of the thirteen national seats.

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