Direction – Social Democracy

Direction–Social Democracy

Smer–sociálna demokracia
LeaderRobert Fico
  • Ľuboš Blaha
  • Richard Takáč
  • Juraj Blanár
  • Erik Kaliňák
  • Ladislav Kamenický
Founded8 November 1999
Split fromParty of the Democratic Left
NewspaperSMER Newspapers
Youth wingYoung Social Democrats
Women's wingSlovak Union of Women
Membership (2019)14,136[1]
Political positionCentre-left[13] to left-wing[14]
European affiliationParty of European Socialists
International affiliationProgressive Alliance
Socialist International
European Parliament groupProgressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colours Red
National Council
26 / 150
European Parliament
3 / 14
Self-governing regions
2 / 8
Regional parliaments
41 / 408
Local councils
3,692 / 20,646

Direction – Social Democracy (Slovak: Smer – sociálna demokracia, Smer – SD) is a left-wing populist[3] and social-democratic[15][a] political party in Slovakia. It is led by former Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico. Direction – Social Democracy was the largest party in the National Council following the parliamentary election held on 5 March 2016, but has since dropped to being the 2nd-largest party after the parliamentary election held on 29 February 2020.



Originally named Direction, the party emerged as a breakaway from the post-communist Party of the Democratic Left (SDL'), the successor of the original Communist Party of Slovakia and the governing party from 1998 to 2002, on 8 November 1999. Under Robert Fico, at the time one of the most popular politicians in the country, it quickly became one of the most popular parties in Slovakia, while the SDĽ experienced a constant decrease within popularity. In the 2002 election, its first formal election period, it became the third-largest party in the National Council of the Slovak Republic, with 25 out of 150 seats. In 2003 it changed its formal name to Direction (Third Way) (Slovak: Smer (tretia cesta)).[16] In 2005, it absorbed the SDĽ or Social Democratic Alternative, a small social-democratic party that split from the original SDĽ somewhat later than Smer did, in addition to the Social Democratic Party of Slovakia; founded in 1990, the party became known under the leadership of Alexander Dubček, and adopted its current name. Following the party's victory in 2006, it entered into a coalition with the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS) and was readmitted into the PES in 2008. It later formed another coalition with the SNS in 2016.

Government (2006–2010)

In the parliamentary election of 17 June 2006, the party won 29.1% of the popular vote and 50 out of 150 seats. Following that election, Smer-SD formed a coalition government with the People's Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the Slovak National Party (SNS),[17][18][19] a nationalist party.[17][18][20] Smer was then temporarily suspended from membership in the Party of European Socialists (PES) on 12 October 2006.[21] The resolution to suspend Smer referred specifically to the PES Declaration "For a modern, pluralist and tolerant Europe", adopted by the PES Congress in 2001 in Berlin which states: "all PES parties adhere to the following principles… to refrain from any form of political alliance or co-operation at all levels with any political party which incites or attempts to stir up racial or ethnic prejudices and racial hatred". The PES Chairman, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, explained in The Slovak Spectator that "Most of our members stood solidly behind our values, according to which forming a coalition with the extreme right is unacceptable."[22] Smer was readmitted on 14 February 2008 after Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico and SNS leader Jan Slota pledged in a letter to respect European values, human rights and all ethnic minorities.[23]

Opposition (2010–2012)

Former party logo

Although the party won the most votes in the 2010 parliamentary election, with a lead of 20% over the second-place Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (SDKÚ),[24] they had not been able to form a government because of losses sustained by their coalition partners. Their result, 34.8%, gave them 62 seats in the National Council, but the HZDS failed to cross the 5% threshold, losing all their seats, and the Slovak National Party was reduced to nine seats. As a result, the four opposition centre-right parties – SDKÚ, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Most–Híd, were able to form a new government.[25]

Government (2012–2020)

In the parliamentary election held on 10 March 2012, Smer-SD won 44.4% of the votes and became the largest party in the National Council, with an absolute majority of 83 seats (out of 150).[26] The Smer-SD formed the first single-party government in Slovakia since 1993.

In the 2014 European Parliament elections, Smer-SD came in first place nationally, receiving 24.09% of the vote and electing 4 MEPs.[27]

Despite suffering a significant loss in support as a result of strikes by teachers and nurses earlier in the year,[28] Smer-SD won the 5 March 2016 parliamentary election with 28.3% of the vote and 49 out of 150 seats, and subsequently formed a coalition government with the Slovak National Party, Most-Híd and Network.

Prime Minister Robert Fico resigned in the wake of the political crisis following the murder of Ján Kuciak and was replaced by Peter Pellegrini, with the same majority. However, Fico remained leader of Smer-SD.

Back into opposition (2020–present)

The party managed to score 18.29% in the parliamentary elections, which was 2 to 3 percent more than the latest polls showed, but it is still a decrease of 10% compared to previous elections. The party occupied 38 seats in parliament. The chairman of the Fico parliamentary group, Pellegrini, became the vice-chairman of the National Council for the Opposition on the basis of post-election negotiations. In May 2020, two deputies for SMER-SD, Ján Podmanický and Marián Kéry, founded the so-called value policy platform with deputies from the KDŽP, elected as a candidate of the ĽSNS. Because of this, Peter Pellegrini sharply criticized them, while Robert Fico defended Podmanický. In May 2020, Podmanický also left the Smer parliamentary group for criticism from his own ranks.

The departure of the Pellegrini group

As early as April 2020, party vice-chairman Peter Pellegrini announced his ambition to run for party chairman as the party's most popular politician, winning 170,000 more votes than the chairman. Fico reacted strongly, saying that he did not intend to resign and wanted to remain at the head of the party, while Pellegrini gradually began to tighten his criticism of Fico and the party's situation. Pellegrini criticized the fact that the party's presidency had not met since the election and the date of the parliament was unknown. Pellegrini demanded that the assembly be held as soon as possible, while Fico insisted that the nomination assembly take place only at a ceremonial assembly in December. At a press conference in Banská Bystrica in June 2020, Pellegrini announced that he would resign as Vice-Chairman of the SMER-SD party and leave the party in the near future. He also outlined the establishment of a new party, which he said should be social democratic, but refused to be liberal; at a similar time, Fico had already offered Pellegrini the position of party chairman, provided that he maintained his influence in the party, an offer which was rejected via Pellegrini. In the first FOCUS survey, 21.4% of respondents would vote for the new Pellegrini party, while the original SMER-SD remained at 9.6%. At a press conference 1 week following the announcement of Pellegrini's departure, another 10 deputies announced the party, including Vice-Presidents Peter Žiga and Richard Raši, Bureau member Denisa Saková and long-standing deputies and party members. At the same time, together with Pellegrini, they announced the creation of a new Social Democratic Party at the press conference, which they would join. Political scientist Grigory Mesezhnikov postulated that after the departure of the Pellegrini group, the SMER-SD could move further to the left, into the spectrum of the radical to communist left wing.[citation needed]



The party is associated with many corruption cases in Slovakia. During the 12 years during which it ruled, the media revealed more than 30 alleged corruption cases in which Slovakia was to lose a total of 20 billion euros.[29][30]

However, the party itself strongly rejects the fact that it has a number of corruption scandals. Its chairman, Robert Fico, usually points to the cases of his opponents when asked about specific corruption cases; more than once, Fico verbally attacked the medium or the journalist himself who asked this question.[31][32] Some prominent members of the party to the corruption case, especially in recent years, have admitted that it is a thing of the past and made mistakes, but they also deny that corruption in the state is high.[33] No corruption case has yet been proven in court, nor has a conviction resulting from a party member's complicity in corruption cases been attained.

Election results

National Council
Election Party leader Performance Rank Government
Votes % ± pp Seats +/–
2002 Robert Fico 387,100
25 / 150
New 3rd Opposition (SDKÚ-SMK-KDH-ANO)
2006 671,185
Increase 15.68
50 / 150
Increase 25 Increase 1st Coalition (Smer–SD-SNS-ĽS–HZDS)
2010 880,111
Increase 5.65
62 / 150
Increase 12 Steady 1st Opposition (SDKÚ-DS-SaS-KDH-MH)
2012 1,134,280
Increase 9.62
83 / 150
Increase 21 Steady 1st Supermajority (Smer–SD)
2016 737,481
Decrease 16.13
49 / 150
Decrease 34 Steady 1st Coalition (Smer–SD-SNS-MH-#SIEŤ)
Coalition (Smer–SD-SNS-MH)
2020 Peter Pellegrini[b] 527,172
Decrease 9.99
38 / 150
Decrease 11 Decrease 2nd Opposition (OĽaNO-SR-SaS-)
Opposition (OĽaNO-SR-)
European Parliament
Election Party leader EU Party Performance Rank EP Group
Votes % ± pp Seats +/–
2004 Monika Beňová PES 118,535
3 / 14
New 3rd S&D
2009 Boris Zala PES 264,722
Increase 15.12
5 / 13
Increase 2 Increase 1st S&D
2014 Maroš Šefčovič PES 135,089
Decrease 7.92
4 / 13
Decrease 1 Steady 1st S&D
2019 Monika Beňová PES 154,996
Decrease 8.37
3 / 14
Decrease 1 Decrease 2nd S&D
Election Candidate First round Second round Result
Votes % Votes %
2004 Endorsed Ivan Gašparovič 442,564
Elected Green tickY
2009 Endorsed Ivan Gašparovič 876,061
Elected Green tickY
2014 Robert Fico 531,919
Lost Red XN
2019 Maroš Šefčovič 400,379
Lost Red XN

See also


  1. ^ a b The social-democratic nature of SMER is disputed.[7]
  2. ^ Only the election leader, chairman Robert Fico


  1. ^ "Výročná správa politickej strany: SMER" (PDF). Ministry of the Interior (Slovakia) (in Slovak). 2019. p. 43.
  2. ^ http://www.ceeidentity.eu/sites/default/files/downloads/zelinsky_final.pdf
  3. ^ a b Učeň, Peter (14 February 2016). "Populizmus Smeru... má to ešte vôbec význam?".
  4. ^ http://www.bisla.sk/sk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Chamulova_Barbora-Bakalarska_praca.pdf
  5. ^ Kern, Miro (5 August 2015). "11 nesplnených alebo meškajúcich sľubov premiéra Fica".
  6. ^ Nordsieck, Wolfram (2020). "Slovakia". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  7. ^ Almeida, Dimitri (2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. Routledge. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0.
  8. ^ Sekerák, Marián (October 2019). "Towards conservatism? Party politics in Slovakia at the end of the 2010s". European View. 18 (2): 233–241. doi:10.1177/1781685819883965.
  9. ^ "Slovak PM Fico wins election but faces tough task to form majority". Reuters. 5 March 2016.
  10. ^ Marek Payerhin, ed. (2017). Nordic, Central, and Southeastern Europe 2017-2018. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 391.
  11. ^ Dangerfield, Martin (2013). "Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia". In David, Maxine; Gower, Jackie; Haukkala, Hiski (eds.). National Perspectives on Russia: European Foreign Policy in the Making?. Routledge. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-135-04967-6.
  12. ^ "Smer–sociálna demokracia(SMER-SD) - Visegrad Plus". Visegrad Plus - Forum for Visegrad+ studies. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Visegrád and migration: Few prospects for a change in position". EURACTIV. 16 January 2017. The government dominated by centre-left party SMER-SD has strongly framed the problem in the narrative of security issue and problem of cultural incompatibility of largely Muslim migrants.
  14. ^ Snegovaya, Maria. "When left-leaning parties support austerity, their voters start to embrace the far right". Monkey Cage. The Washington Post.
  15. ^ Alfio Cerami (2006). Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: The Emergence of a New European Welfare Regime. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 23. ISBN 978-3-8258-9699-7.
  16. ^ "Register of Political Parties and Political Movements". Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  17. ^ a b Cas Mudde (2005). Racist Extremism in Central & Eastern Europe. Routledge. pp. xvi, 314. ISBN 0-415-35593-1. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  18. ^ a b Zoltan D. Barany (2002). The East European gypsies: regime change, marginality, and ethnopolitics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 313, 408. ISBN 0-521-00910-3. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  19. ^ Juliana Sokolova (2 April 2009). "Slovakia: in search of normal". openDemocracy.net. Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  20. ^ "The Study of Contemporary Racism and Antisemitism", The Steven Roth Institute, Tel Aviv University. Tau.ac.il. Archived 31 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 15 October 2011.
  21. ^ SMER suspended from PES political family Archived 6 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Party of European Socialists, 12 October 2006
  22. ^ Petit Press a.s. "Euro-socialists suspend Fico's Smer party". spectator.sme.sk. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Slovak PM's party rejoins European socialists". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  24. ^ Voľby do Národnej rady Slovenskej republiky Archived 16 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Volbysr.sk. Retrieved on 15 October 2011.
  25. ^ Fico vyhral a predsa končí | Voľby 2010. volby.sme.sk. Retrieved on 15 October 2011.
  26. ^ a.s, Petit Press (11 March 2012). "ELECTION 2012: UVK officially confirms Smer's landslide victory in general election". spectator.sme.sk.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ Cunningham, Benjamin. "5 takeaways from Slovakia's election". Politico.eu. Politico. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  29. ^ Aktuality.sk. "Najväčšie korupčné kauzy od roku 2006". Aktuality.sk (in Slovak). Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  30. ^ Čikovský, Konštantín (24 November 2015). "Päť miliardových káuz Smeru". Denník E (in Slovak). Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  31. ^ Števkov, Peter. "Ficova vojna s novinármi. Slizkí hadi, hyeny, prostitútky a idioti | Parlamentné Listy". parlamentnelisty.sk/ (in Slovak). Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  32. ^ a.s, Petit Press. "Vláda nechce odpovedať novinám, naposledy to urobil Mečiar". ekonomika.sme.sk (in Slovak). Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  33. ^ "Pellegrini volá po zmene, pripúšťa svoj odchod". trend.sk (in Slovak). 29 May 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2020.

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