People’s Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
Published 31st January, 2012
The People’s Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia or HZDS was founded in March 1991 following a conflict within the Public Against Violence (VPN) party. The then prime minister of Slovakia, Vladimír Mečiar, formed the ‘For a Democratic Slovakia’ platform within the VPN, was dismissed and formed the HZDS. The party describes itself as centrist and believes in national conservatism and right wing populism.
The HZDS did well in the 1992 election, winning 74 of the 150 seats in the National Council. Vladimír Mečiar was able to form a government and took the country through the process of separation from the Czech Republic in 1992/1993.
The new government was soon being criticised for being authoritarian and internal dissent and personality clashes saw one group leave to form the Alliance of Democrats of Slovakia, and then another group broke away calling itself the Realistic Political Alternative. The turmoil led to a vote of no confidence in Mečiar and he resigned in March 1994 and was replaced as prime minister by Jozef Moravčík.
The move was enough to see the political fortunes of the party turn around and in the autumn of 1994 the HZDS won 61 seats in the general election. This was enough to form a coalition government with the Slovak National Party (SNS) and Slovak Workers’ Front (ZRS). Vladimír Mečiar returned as prime minister on 13th December 1994 and there followed a period of increasing authoritarianism and internal warfare; including a major falling out between Mečiar and President Michal Kováč.
Before the elections of 1998, the HZDS was joined by the New Agrarian Party and by the Party of Entrepreneurs and Tradesmen. It was not enough, and although being elected as the largest party with 43 seats in the 1998 election, the HZDS was forced into opposition.
This was the start of a long slow decline for the party which saw Mečiar fail to win two presidential elections and a steady flow of people leaving the party as they fell out with Mečiar.
In 2002 the HZDS was still the largest party with 36 seats but was not able to form a coalition government with any other parties. By 2006 the party fortunes had continued to decline and they managed to win just 15 of the 150 seats in the National Council.
In 2010 the party slumped to just 4.32% of the vote, below the 5% threshold for representation in the National Council. For the first time they were without a seat in parliament.
The People’s Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia holds one of the 13 seats in the European Parliament and is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. It is also a member of the European Democratic Party.