The Czech and the Slovak nations had a similar history for more than a century, and the attempt to coexist in just one common state definitely failed in autumn 1992, when the Czech Prime Minister Václav Klaus and the leader of the main Slovak party HZDS, Vladimír Meèiar, came to the conclusion that the break-up of the integrated republic would be the best solution to the long-time internal problems. Consequently, on the 1st January 1993 two different countries emerged: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
Today, both of the Republics are members both of NATO and the EU; nevertheless the evolution of the former sibling countries has been slightly different. The Czech Republic's passage from the period of 40 years of subordination to the USSR into a functional democracy was less painful than the one Slovakia had to go through. The Czechs became members of NATO in 1999, whereas the Slovaks were not incorporated in the first wave of enhancement. Later on, when the negotiation process for the admission of the Czech and Slovak Republics to EU grew near to its end, Slovakia confronted various problems which led to discussions about its preparedness. But finally, both of the countries became members of the EU on the 1st May 2004 during the first wave of enlargement.
When taking into consideration the fact that the two countries had a common past and that they have gone through a long process of self-determination, we may suppose that the evolution of the political positioning of the two countries would also be similar. In spite of all this, we may find today two rather different systems of political culture, of party divisions and also of political struggle in the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. Today, when talking about the further European enlargement and more about the possible admission of Turkey in the future, the two countries and their respective political parties have distinct points of view. From what is said below it may be possible to conclude that the Czech Republic had a more positive point of view about the European Union and it was more keen on entering it, whereas Slovakia stuck to its long-established good relationships with the USA and orientated its foreign politics rather to the Anglo-Saxon world. Meanwhile it is clear that after entering the EU, both of the former members of Czechoslovakia, who are now independent countries, must have expressed their opinion about the boundaries of the new allied Europe, about the further enlargement, and of course also about the question of Turkey. And surprisingly these opinions have not turned out to as different as expected in the two countries.
Consequently several questions as to why this significant division has happened may emerge: are the systems of political parties already divided by definition (because of different political background, socio-cultural beliefs or values); are there the same differences of opinion regarding the attitude to the EU and also Turkey in the Czech and in the Slovak Republic, or may we also note any internal differences between the two party systems?
[...] In the conclusion of this paper we may note that despite the initial resemblances and common values of the Czech and Slovak nations, their actual political systems are not quite the same, even though they may coincide at certain points (the absence of a clear left/right division in both of the countries). The Czech political scene has been, especially in the last two years, frightened by the possibility of the communists returning to power, so the division seems to appear rather between the followers of socialist values and those who support liberal centre-right values. [...]
[...] At present there are 7 political parties in the Slovak parliament (elections 2002, held in the same year as in the Czech Republic): L´S-HZDS: Movement for Democratic Slovakia, SDKÚ: Slovak Democratic and Christian Union, SMER: The Direction, SMK: Party of Hungarian Coalition, KDH: Christian Democratic Movement, ANO: Alliance of a New Citizen and KSS: Slovak Communist Party. L´S-HZDS: People's party - Movement for democratic Slovakia It is the famous and rather left-wing party of Vladimír Mečiar, who won the last elections with 19% of the votes, but nevertheless it does not have major influence in the government today. [...]
[...] But it is certainly possible to say that, like the Czech communists, this party was the least enthusiastic about Slovak membership of the EU and also about the further enlargement towards the Balkans or Turkey. III. / REASONS FOR THE PARTY POSITIONING In contrast to what we may have supposed, there is no prominent left/right or pro/anti-European split either in the Czech Republic or in Slovakia. In the case of the Czech Republic, being a follower of a left-wing party still means to be attached to rather socialist values closely related (and therefore discredited) to the communist past before 1989. [...]
[...] / PARTY POSITIONG REGARDING THE EU AND ITS FURTHER ENLARGMENT THE CASE OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC ČSSD: Czech Social Democratic Party This party took over the negotiations with the EU in 1998 (which were originally started by the ODS) and that is why they celebrated the entry of the Czech Republic in 2004 as mainly their success. The ČSSD was also in favor of the adoption of the European constitution, but their condition was a referendum. Nevertheless they claim to defend all European values and they also support further enlargement. [...]
[...] In the EU Parliament they belong to the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats THE CASE OF THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC The Slovak national legislature consists of just one chamber (unicameral system). The National Council of the Slovak Republic has 150 deputies who are elected for a four-year period. An election can be held earlier but not later. The president calls the election and the parliament adopts the act by qualified majority. There is a difference in the electoral system from that in the Czech Republic: it is a closed party-list system, with proportional representation using the “Hagenbach-Bischoff” method and a greatest-remainders calculation for leftover seats. [...]
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