March 22, 2009
As expected, the least colorful incumbent president in the Visegrad Group, Ivan Gašparovi? has won the first round of Slovakia’s presidential elections. Iveta Radi?ová, the leading oppositon candiadate has collected enough votes to force him to a run-off.
Gašparovi? was first elected to the presidency in 2004, when he unexpectedly made it to the runoff election along with his erstwhile boss, former Prime Minister Vladimír Me?iar, and he is supported by the current government which includes the left-of-center populist Smer, Me?iar’s populist nationalist and Jan Sloata’s far-right party. Iveta Radi?ová is a candidate of the three center-right opposition parties which held office from 1998 to 2006: the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH).
The Slovakian president, like other V4 presidents, is a more of a figurehead than a political leader. As some colourful politicians, like Czech president Václav Klaus, or the Polish president Lech Kaczy?ski, or Mr László Sólyom of Hungary shows, even if these president follow a strange or unique agenda their power is more of a distruction than a counterweight to the government. Mr Gašparovi? has no such strange political views and is expected to be re-elected in the run-off.Dániel Antal