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Slovakia: Election Appears To Sideline Meciar

Bratislava, 22 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Preliminary results in Slovakia's parliamentary elections indicate the party of the incumbent prime minister, Mikulas Dzurinda, is well placed to form a new, center-right administration. Former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) took the largest single bloc of votes, with 19.5 percent.

But Meciar is isolated and a four- or five-party center-right grouping formed around Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) looks set to form a government.

The SDKU finished second with 15.1 percent. Dzurinda's coalition partners in the Christian Democrats took 8.25 percent and the ethnic Hungarian SMK party received 11.2 percent.

A coalition with the New Citizens' Alliance, which won 8 percent of the vote, would give them a majority government.

The SDKU said in a statement today that its condition for participating in a coalition is that the incumbent prime minister remain in power.

Denmark, which currently hold the EU presidency, said the EU looks forward to the formation of a new Slovak government "that will be able to continue the important progress towards EU membership."

For the first time Slovakia's parliament will include the unreformed Communist Party, which won a surprising 6.5 percent.

Austria's conservative Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel sent a message of congratulations on 22 September to Dzurinda on his election success.

A statement by the Vienna Chancellery said Dzurinda and his government had "worked hard under difficult conditions," and not allowed themselves to be led away from their "firm course towards Europe."

It said the elections had now shown that there was a clear majority for Dzurinda's pro-European Union course.

Official results of the elections on 20-21 September give Dzurinda's party and its three likely coalition partners some 78 of the parliament's 150 seats, meaning the center-right government will be able to continue in office.