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Comparative analysis of the political parties and the party systems: the case of the Czech Republic and Slovakia

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  1. Introduction.
    1. Sharing between the the two successor states of the former Czechoslovakia.
    2. The aim of this paper - analyzing comparatively the party systems of the two countries.
  2. The structuring of the political cleavages in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
    1. Identifying and explaining the structure of political cleavages and ideological conflicts.
    2. The social and economic difficulties faced by the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
    3. Slovakia: Defining the borders as well as the citizenship.
    4. The higher importance of religion in Slovakia.
  3. Political parties and electoral competition in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
    1. The major party to emerge from the 'Civic Forum'.
    2. The most powerful party to emerge after the break-up.
  4. The ambitious economic reforms triggered by Vaclav Klaus.
  5. V. Meciar's 'Movement for Democratic Slovakia' .
  6. Positioning of political parties in regard to the EU enlargement and the accession of Turkey.
  7. Conclusion.

Although sharing institutions for over seventy years, and the transition pathways from communism, the two successor states of the former Czechoslovakia have faced different challenges in the state-building process and adopted distinct economic policies over the past thirteen years since Slovakia became an independent state in 1993. At first sight, the two countries share seemingly similar political context and social and economic structures. Formerly parts of the communist bloc, both countries have undergone a difficult period of economic and political transformation in the early 90s and developed, literally from scratch, new institutions and political parties. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have also shared the same political goals in the past years ; the candidacy for the European Union and for the NATO, stabilization of the state-economy as well as shaking off the corruption have become the priorities of the countries on the long term. However, after a careful analysis we come to the conclusion that there exists a deep gap between the party systems as well as between the voters' alignment in the two states.

[...] Traditionally a pro-European party, this party has changed its orientation at the late 90s and became a rather anti-European oriented party especially with the influence of the former leader of the party, the present president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus. Though the speeches of the party-leaders differ considerably, the ?Civic Democratic Party' declared recently that it is opposed to any other enlargement of the European Union, including the enlargement to Turkey. The party is therefore moving more right, some of its representatives adopting striking speeches marked by an extreme-right-wing orientation. [...]

[...] We will see that the cleavages cited above have turned out to be fundamental in the formation of the parties as well as in the elaboration of their campaign strategy Political Parties and Electoral Competition in the Czech Republic and Slovakia In the aftermath of the ?velvet revolution', the split-up of the Czechoslovakia was not anticipated by the public, neither by the political spheres. Though the legislative elections in 1990 were held on a federal basis, the two dominant parties and its political elites that gained the largest support were largely allied. [...]

[...] On the one hand, the Czech Republic and Slovakia represent a handful of similarities when it comes to the ?European politics' of the political parties. Firstly, both countries are at this moment led by a largely pro- European government. In the Czech Republic, the ?Social Democracy' shows a highly enthusiastic approach when it comes to the up-coming enlargement to other Eastern-European countries. In addition, the party never opposed to the accession of Turkey. Equally, the present centre-right coalition in Slovakia formed by the party of Mikulas Dzurinda, the present Prime Minister, and the coalition of the Hungarian parties is also a permanent defendant of the pro-European politics of Slovakia. [...]

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