Direction - Social democracy (Smer - Sociálna demokracia, Smer - SD)

Direction – Third Way was formed in 1999 by popular figure of then coalition Party of the Democratic Left Robert Fico. Fico left the party and also parliamentary majority declaratorily because of the continuing corruption and unfulfilled government program and promises. Fico an his party which defined itself as beyond right – left dichotomy quickly became very popular among the voters partly due to its protest appeal and its refusal of both Mečiar and heterogeneous anti – Mečiar coalition. In elections of 2002 Direction –Third Way took over the whole electorate of the SDĽ and despite it gained less votes than polls had predicted it established itself as a relevant political force. Between the years 2002 and 2006 Direction – Third Way moved from the centre to the left of the political map. Reason for this move was simple – recently formed government was composed of centre right parties which had no intention to cooperate with Direction and in the same time besides Communist party of Slovakia there was no relevant party representing the left in the National Council. In 2004 Direction merged with most of the remaining left wing parties in Slovakia and changed its name to Direction – Social Democracy.

In general elections of 2006 Direction won with almost thirty percent of the votes and formed coalition government with ĽS – HZDS and SNS. During the first premiership of Róbert Fico Direction – SD was criticized from the Party of the European Socialists for its decision to join a government with SNS which was perceived as extreme right – wing party. Furthermore relations with the neighboring Hungary deteriorated due to several incidents in both countries. After four years of being in government Direction – SD managed to improve its electoral gains and again won in 2010 with more than thirty four percent of the votes. In spite of this Direction – SD did not manage to find enough partners to form a government and it had to stay in opposition.

Election results
  2002 2006 2009 2010 2014
Votes 13,46 29,14 32.02% 34,79 24.09%
Seats 25 50 5 62 4

Election manifesto 2006

In respect to minorities, the 2006 manifesto considers these groups to be an integral part of Slovakia. As it states it, Slovak culture is a sum of the cultures on the territory of Slovakia and that of foreign Slovaks. We can see thus that to be a member of the Slovak nation even without Slovak citizenship constitutes a strong bond between the state and the foreign ethnic Slovak. The Manifesto of Direction – SD in 2006 addressed one minority group in particular: issues concerning the Roma people were referred to as problems associated with their “status in society”. Direction – SD would solve these problems by further integration of the Roma population into Slovak society. In conclusion, the 2006 election manifesto of Direction – SD saw Slovakia as an independent country which should be regarded as such by other countries. A strong and confident foreign policy, based on independence and sovereignty from any foreign power, was a condition of Direction – SD. In this context we should also appreciate the emphasis laid down by the manifesto on the European identity of Slovakia, as Europeanism was considered as essential to be modern, prosperous and progressive.

Election manifesto 2010

The Direction – SD election manifesto of 2010 was marked by the urgent task of defending the Slovak Republic from external threat. One of the most central principles of the manifesto was interests defined as national and state. Contrary to the national interests, in its common meaning for Direction – SD, it was necessary to stress both the national and state character of the interests and thus the underlining nationalistic approach to the state. State interests whom were to be defended were the interests of the nation which constitutes the state. In the case of Slovakia it was the Slovak nation. Nation and state interests had to be protected and foreign policy was the main tool in achieving this goal. The manifesto thus called for the strengthening of the international status and position of the Slovak Republic, for example by securing positions and functions for Slovak representatives in the international organizations and their bodies. Again a great deal of importance was put on energy security and diversification of energy sources. Similarly Direction – SD emphasized the need for the so-called intellectual security of the country. In order to pursue national and state interests, the manifesto proposed to enter into strategic partnership with foreign countries which would guarantee the sovereignty and integrity of Slovakia, thus suggesting that these were not sufficiently guaranteed by existing structures. Among these partnerships, specifically mentioned were those beyond the European Union, especially with the Russian Federation. A sense of potential danger was further strengthened by the attitude towards the independence of Kosovo. In the 2010 election manifesto the nation is understood as a basic political entity centred on a culturally defined Slovak nation. Cultural and historical foundations of the nation should be protected and cultivated by the nation state’s education system. However, this did not entail exclusion of minorities – on the contrary, while maintaining the foundations of the nation, minorities are to be respected and they also should enjoy protection. As the manifesto puts it, national integrity should be strengthened by equal rights for all social citizenship. Foreign policy is also perceived as a tool which serves to protect the Slovak character of the Slovak Republic and the republic itself. Direction – SD called for a cautious foreign policy which would be aware of the potential danger to the territorial integrity of the state. As can be seen, the political program of Direction – SD as expressed in these above-mentioned election manifestos went through substantial transformation in the period 2006–2010. While in 2006 the manifesto was supportive of the integration of the Roma population and was a supporter of the European Union and of European values in Slovakia, four years later the party emphasised other values more passionately: namely patriotism and national heritage. While remaining a party that condemns racism, it also stressed the need for building national pride in order to be able to protect Slovakia and its Slovak identity from external threats.

Election manifesto 2012

To analyse the manifesto properly, one is faced with similar obstacles like in case of KDH. Although the party politicizes some of the national collared issues e.g. the role of Cyril and Method in historical shaping of Slovakia, in the manifesto party proves significant national identity shift towards the liberal perception. Still, the national culture is understood as a basic identifying tool of the society; the traditional role of family should be strengthened. On the other side, the manifesto emphasizes support and inclusion of national minorities and marginalized communities, especially Roma minority should be encouraged in education and employment.

The manifesto tries to respond to the reality of integration processes. Therefore, the national sovereignty and national interests should deal with responsibility in the European politics. On the other side, the role of national sovereignty helps to identify citizens and the state. In similar context, globalization is perceived only positively; it brings pressure on national and social stability of Slovakia. As mentioned above, the categorization seems not to be an easy task. For liberal types is the manifesto not sufficiently liberal, for national conservative type the national coloured issues are not sufficiently nationalist. Therefore, we categorize the manifesto to the right wing liberal type, focusing on perception of the EU, culture, and national minority. Further analysis on party strategy in this field needed.