Political party Freedom and Solidarity is relatively new in the Slovak party system. Party was founded by economist Richard Sulík and some other entrepreneurs and economists generally from Bratislava. Sulík served as an advisor under two ministers of finances from both right wing government of Mikuláš Dzurinda and center left government of Róbert Fico. Sulík was main designer of the pension system reform and therefore in some way active in politics before founding SaS. New party was established in 2009 soon enough to take part in the European Elections of the same year. SaS gained almost five percent of the votes. Despite it was not enough to enter the European Parliament many including Sulík considered these results to be fairly good. Before the general elections of 2010 SaS persistently criticized Fico’s government and refused to enter any potential coalition with the Direction – SD. In the elections SaS managed to enter parliament and even to become the third largest party with more that twelve percent of the popular vote. SaS also entered newly formed government led by Iveta Radičová from SDKÚ – DS.
Election manifesto 2010
SaS presented two tendencies in its 2010 manifesto. The first tendency was dominated by social and internal issues addressed in the program; the second tendency is more related to analysis of the party’s foreign policy principles and goals. The latter tendency is represented by SaS’s strong commitment to the principles of equality, tolerance, human rights, freedom and secularism. These principles are almost omnipresent in the manifesto – the party supports the legalization of gay marriage and some kinds of soft drugs. It strongly opposes any church involvement in public affairs and proposes the fiscal separation of the state and churches. In the manifesto there are no references to the Slovak nation. Clearly the target audience of the manifesto is intended to be citizens of the Slovak Republic rather than members of the Slovak nation. SaS also chose a similar approach vis-a-vis the Roma minority and the so-called “Roma problem”. The manifesto did not address any problems associated with the Roma population and rather spoke about the problem of Socially Excluded Communities. SaS acknowledged that most of the members of these communities are Roma, but it refuses to make a direct link between Roma identity and membership in the Socially Excluded Community. The manifesto draws a connection between state policies towards excluded communities and their present social status and situation. When it mentioned Roma population as an ethic group it was when referring to the discrimination of Roma children in the school system. It recognized the problem of the over-representation of Roma pupils in schools for mentally defective children. On this issue SaS strongly opposed Roma segregation and suggested policies which aim at non-discriminatory practices in the classification of pupils’ mental capacities However, in spite of all of the above-mentioned, there is a clear tendency of the SaS manifesto towards scepticism in international cooperation, especially related to the European project. While supporting Slovak membership in the European Union, SaS also cautiously approached any further integration into the Union. Each step towards further transfer of competencies from the states to the Union is to be conditioned by approval of the National Council. Beyond this, not everything derived from the European Union was considered to have a positive effect on Slovak society. In this respect we should also interpret the party’s cautious approach towards Turkey and its membership in the European Union. SaS refused full membership and instead advocated a privileged partnership for the Islamic country.
Election manifesto 2012
To distinguish differences between the 2010 and 2013 election manifesto, one can focus on the European integration issues. Although the SaS proved the integration commitment to the EU integration, the 2013 manifestos set certain limits in this field. The deeper supranational integration that can affect the national sovereignty party rejects. Therefore, the European fiscal packet party does not accept as well; the role of ECB must be purely independent. Nonetheless, manifesto perceives the EU and NATO as a guarantee of stability and security. Both EU and NATO party supports the enlargement. In this respect, the democratization of Ukraine should continue with the EU assistance. The manifesto stresses the individual freedom and responsibility as one of core elements of the party’s ideological grounds. However, the manifesto emphasizes the collective feelings in terms of using culture and a proof of national pride. The Roma issues should be perceived as a social problem without ethic accent. In similar sense, the Slovak-Hungarian relations should be strengthened thanks to the civic society activities.The party’s categorization remains unchanged; the strong liberal accent is the most important sign of manifesto. Still, sceptic view on the EU and supranational integration remains significant for party’s ideological orientation.