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Tim Haughton, "Explaining the Limited Success of the Communist-Successor Left in Slovakia: The Case of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL')," Party Politics, 10 (March 2004), 177-191.

First Paragraph:
One of the most striking aspects of the 2002 Slovak parliamentary elections was the collapse in support for the communist-successor party, the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL') which failed to cross the 5 percent threshold, managing to muster a mere 1.36 percent of the vote. The party's derisory showing in the 2002 elections, but also SDL''s failure throughout the 1990s, is in stark contrast to its counterparts in Poland and Hungary. The turnaround of the Polish successor party, Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland, for example, was 'stunning' (Gryzma-Busse, 2002: 3). After theparty lost every seat it could in the semi-free elections of June 1989, as part of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) the party went on to win the parliamentary elections only four years later, catapulting the party back into government. Although SLD lost power as a result of the 1997 elections it gained votes; a trend which continued in 2001 when SLD won the parliamentary elections with 41 percent of the vote and became the main party in government. Such success was not just the monopoly of the Poles. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSzP) won the April 1994 elections with 33 percent of the vote and became the leading party in government. Although the MSzP lost the 1998 election, the party's share of the vote held up (32.3 percent). After four years in opposition, victory in the 2002 poll (winning 46 percent of the vote) returned MSzP to power.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Parliamentary election results (% of the popular vote) of SDL' and its rivals

Last Paragraph:
The 1994 elections brought a coalition of HZDS, ZRS and the hardline nationalists to power. Thanks to murky privatization deals, a disrespect for the rights of ethnic minorities and a disregard for the constitutional niceties of democratic politics, the 1994-8 government sullied the name of Slovakia in international circles and caused both NATO and the EU to reject the country's advances. Slovakia was only resurrected thanks to a broad-based coalition, including SDL', formed after the 1998 elections. Although the 1998-2002 government led Slovakia towards NATO and EU membership, and more generally towards international rehabilitation, the decision of the SDL' leadership to take the finance portfolio, and hence become the public face of painful economic reform, not only caused the party's popularity to fall, but exacerbated internal tensions within SDL' leading ultimately to its derisory result in the 2002 elections.