Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Vladimír Mečiar (born July 26 1942) is the leader of the People's Party - Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (ĽS-HZDS) and a former Prime Minister of Slovakia. He led Slovakia to a disengagement from the Czech Republic. He was one of the leading presidential candidates in Slovakia in 1999 and 2004. He has been criticised by his opponents as well as by Western political organisations for having an autocratic style of administration and lack of respect for democratic order.
He was born in Zvolen in 1942 as the eldest of four boys. His father was a tailor, and his mother a housewife. Starting in the Communist Party of Slovakia, the only road to prominence in Communist Czechoslovakia, he became committee chairman in the town of Ziar nad Hronom , only to be dismissed in the year after the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, when he delivered a pro-reform speech to the national congress in 1969 and was thrown out. A year later he was also expelled from the Communist Party and then added to the Communist Party Central Committee's long list of enemies of the socialist regime, a fact that he was to turn to his advantage later. He put himself through the Faculty of Law of the Comenius University while working in a glass factory
In late 1989, i. e. during the fast-paced 1989 anti-Communist Velvet revolution, he—just like most Slovaks—entered the first non-Communist political party Public Against Violence (Verejnosť proti násiliu, VPN), which was the Slovak counterpart to the better-known Czech Civic Forum. On January 11 1990, when the VPN was looking for professionals to participate in the government of Slovakia, Mečiar was appointed the new Minister of the Interior and Environment of Slovakia on a recommendation of Alexander Dubček, who was impressed by Mečiar‘s thorough knowledge in all relevant fields.
After the first democratic elections in Czechoslovakia in June 1990, he was named Slovak premier (representing the VPN) of a coalition government of VPN and the Christian Democratic Movement. He was advocating economic reform and continued federation with the Czechs.
The year 1990 was a year, when the political landscape of the Czech Republic and Slovakia started to develop, so that many new political parties arose (mainly from the Civic Forum and the VPN). By the end of 1990, some of Mečiar‘s partners in the VPN began distancing themselves from him. First, the party split into two fractions in early March 1991: the Mečiar supporters (by and large members of his cabinet) and Mečiar opponents (led by the then VPN chairman Fedor Gál ). Then, on April 23 1991, the Presidium of the Slovak parliament (Slovak National Council ) deposed him as premier of Slovakia and he was replaced by Ján Čarnogurský , the then leader of the Christian Democratic Movement. Three days later, the VPN officially split in two: the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the remaining VPN (since October 1991 called ODÚ-VPN, later just ODÚ ). Mečiar was elected HZDS chairman in June 1991. The official reason given by the ODÚ for this split was that Mečiar had become a “dictator“.
In 1991 and 1992, there were frequent, but fruitless, negotiations between the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic concerning the future relations between the two constituent republics of Czechoslovakia. The winners of the June 1992 elections in Czechoslovakia and new prime ministers were the Civic Democratic Party led by Václav Klaus in the Czech Republic and the HZDS led by Vladimír Mečiar in Slovakia. Before and shortly after this election, the HZDS supported the creation of a looser federation—a confederation—between the two republics. Its Czech counterpart however wanted an even more centralised Czechoslovakia then was the case in 1992 or two separate countries. Since these two concepts were irreconcilable, Mečiar and Klaus agreed (after intense negotiations, but without having consulted the population in a referendum) on July 23 in Bratislava to dissolve Czechoslovakia and to create two independent states. As a result, Mečiar and Klaus became the premiers of two independent states on January 1 1993.
After eight members of the parliament left the HZDS in March 1993, Mečiar lost his parliamentary majority. At the same time Mečiar's HZDS also lost the support of the president, who was originally nominated by the HZDS. However, it was only in March 1994 that he was unseated as prime minister by the parliament (National Council of the Slovak Republic) and the opposition parties created a new government under Jozef Moravčík's lead. However, after the elections held at the turn of September and October 1994, in which his HZDS won 35% of the vote, he became prime minister again. During the following period, he was constantly criticized by his opponents and Western countries for an autocratic style of administration, lack of respect for democracy, corruption (which however remained a problem up to present days) and the shady privatisation of national companies that occurred during his rule. Privatisation during the 90s in both Slovakia and Czech Republic was harmed by widespread unlawful asset stripping (known by journalistic term as tunelling).
At the same time Mečiar was at permanent "war" with the then President of Slovakia. He was also blamed for having engaged the Slovak secret service (SIS) in the abduction of the President’s son—convicted of a financial crime in Germany—to Austria in August 1995, but his guilt has not been proven. As a result, Slovakia under his rule became partially isolated from the West and the pace of EU and NATO accession negotiations was much slower than in the case of neighbouring countries, although Mečiar has always supported both EU and NATO membership of his country and put in Slovakia's applications to those two organisations.
Despite HZDS's close win in the September 1998 election (27%), he was unable to create a coalition, and Mikuláš Dzurinda from the opposition became the new Prime Minister. Afterwards, Mečiar was one of the two leading candidates for the first direct election of the President of Slovakia in 1999, but he was defeated by Rudolf Schuster. In 2000, Mečiar‘s HZDS was renamed "People's Party - Movement for a Democratic Slovakia".
The 2002 election was won by the HZDS (20%) again and again the party was unable to create a coalition. Mikuláš Dzurinda and his allies created the new government. The lower percentage of Mečiar's HZDS (20%) compared to the 1998 result was due to internal disputes within the HZDS shortly before the election, which caused many traditional HZDS members to leave the party. Some of them created the HZD (Movement for Democracy) party led by Ivan Gašparovič. In 2003, further traditional HZDS members left the party and most of them created the People's Union (Ľudová únia).
In the 2004 presidential election Mečiar tried again to become Slovak president, but he was defeated in the second round by his former long-standing co-worker Ivan Gašparovič.
- List of political parties in Slovakia
- List of Presidents of Slovakia
- List of Prime Ministers of Slovakia
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