Direction – Social Democracy

Direction – Social Democracy (Slovak: Smer – sociálna demokracia, Smer – SD) is a social-democratic[11] and left-wing populist[4] political party in Slovakia. It is led by former Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico. Smer-SD 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.

Direction–Social Democracy

Smer–sociálna demokracia
LeaderRobert Fico
Founded8 November 1999
Split fromParty of the Democratic Left
NewspaperSMER Newspapers
Youth wingYoung Social Democrats
Membership (2018)14,626[1]
IdeologySocial democracy[2]
Left-wing nationalism[3]
Left-wing populism[4][5][6]
Social conservatism[7]
Political positionCentre-left[10]
European affiliationParty of European Socialists
International affiliationProgressive Alliance
Socialist International
European Parliament groupProgressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colours     Red
National Council
37 / 150
European Parliament
3 / 14
Self-governing regions
2 / 8
Regional parliaments
88 / 408
Local councils
3,692 / 20,646



Originally named Direction, the party emerged as a breakaway from the post-communist Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ) on 8 November 1999. Under 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, which was the successor of the original Communist Party of Slovakia and was the governing party from 1998 to 2002, was steadily decreasing in popularity. In the 2002 election, its first outing, 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)).[12] In 2005, it absorbed SDĽ, Social Democratic Alternative; a small social-democratic party that split from the SDĽ somewhat later than Smer did, and 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, Smer entered into a coalition with the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS). Smer was readmitted into the PES in 2008. It later formed another coalition with the SNS in 2016.

Government (2006–2010)Edit

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 Slovak National Party (SNS),[13][14][15] a nationalist party.[13][14][16] Smer was then temporarily suspended from membership in the Party of European Socialists (PES) on 12 October 2006.[17] 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."[18] 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.[19]

Opposition (2010–2012)Edit

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),[20] 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.[21]

Government (2012–2020)Edit

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).[22] 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.[23]

Despite suffering a significant loss in support as a result of strikes by teachers and nurses earlier in the year,[24] 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)Edit

Smer-SD suffered further losses in the 2020 parliamentary election, arriving second and winning 18,29% of votes, losing to Ordinary People; furthermore, all of its allies (Slovak National Party, Most–Híd, and the Slovak Conservative Party) did not re-enter parliament, thus erasing the government's majority. Following brief consultation, Ordinary People formed a coalition with We Are Family, Freedom and Solidarity and For the People, forcing Smer-SD back into opposition after eight years in government.

Election resultsEdit

National CouncilEdit

Year Leader Vote Vote % Seats Place Government
2002 Robert Fico 387,100 13.46
25 / 150
3rd No
2006 Robert Fico 671,185  29.14  
50 / 150
1st  Yes
2010 Robert Fico 880,111   34.79  
62 / 150
1st No
2012 Robert Fico 1,134,180   44.41  
83 / 150
1st Yes
2016 Robert Fico 737,481   28.28 
49 / 150
1st Yes
2020 Peter Pellegrini 527,172  18.29 
38 / 150
2nd  No


Election Candidate First round result Second round result
Votes %Votes Result Votes %Votes Result
2004 Ivan Gašparovič[a] 442,564 22.28 Runner-up 1,079,592 59.91 Won
2009 Ivan Gašparovič[b] 876,061 46.71 Runner-up 1,234,787 55.53 Won
2014 Robert Fico 531,919 28.00 Runner-up 893,841 40.61 Lost
2019 Maroš Šefčovič[c] 400,379 18.66 Runner-up 752,403 41.59 Lost

European ParliamentEdit

Year Vote Vote % Seats Place
2004 118,535 16.89
3 / 14
2009 264,722   32.01  
5 / 13
2014 135,189   24.09  
4 / 13
2019 154,996   15.72  
3 / 14

Current representativesEdit

Smer-SD provided the following members of the government (2016–2020):

  • Peter Pellegrini (prime minister)
  • Richard Raši (deputy prime minister and minister for investments and informatization)
  • Denisa Saková (deputy prime minister and minister of internal affairs)
  • Ladislav Kamenický (minister of finance)
  • Miroslav Lajčák (nominated by Direction-Social Democracy) (minister of foreign affairs)
  • Ján Richter (minister of labour, social affairs and family)
  • Peter Žiga (minister of economy)
  • Ľubica Laššáková (minister of culture)
  • Andrea Kalavská (nominated by Direction-Social Democracy) (minister of health)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ not a member – but supported by SMER
  2. ^ not a member – but supported by SMER
  3. ^ not a member – but supported by SMER


  1. ^ "VÝROČNÁ SPRÁVAHOSPODÁRENIE A FINANCOVANIE STRANY" (PDF). Retrieved 13 March 2020. External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ Nordsieck, Wolfram (2020). "Slovakia". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Učeň, Peter (14 February 2016). "Populizmus Smeru... má to ešte vôbec význam?".
  5. ^
  6. ^ Kern, Miro (5 August 2015). "11 nesplnených alebo meškajúcich sľubov premiéra Fica".
  7. ^ "Slovakia's president-elect boosts liberal parties, ruling leftists fall: poll". Reuters. 2 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Slovak PM Fico wins election but faces tough task to form majority". Reuters. 5 March 2016.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ Simon Bulmer; Christian Lequesne (2013). The Member States of the European Union. OUP Oxford. p. 327. ISBN 978-0-19-954483-7.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Register of Political Parties and Political Movements". Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  13. ^ a b Cas Mudde (2005). Racist Extremism in Central & Eastern Europe. Routledge. pp. xvi, 314. ISBN 0-415-35593-1. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Juliana Sokolova (2 April 2009). "Slovakia: in search of normal". Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  16. ^ "The Study of Contemporary Racism and Antisemitism", The Steven Roth Institute, Tel Aviv University. Archived 31 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 15 October 2011.
  17. ^ SMER suspended from PES political family Archived 6 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Party of European Socialists, 12 October 2006
  18. ^ Petit Press a.s. "Euro-socialists suspend Fico's Smer party". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  19. ^ "Slovak PM's party rejoins European socialists". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  20. ^ Voľby do Národnej rady Slovenskej republiky Archived 16 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 15 October 2011.
  21. ^ Fico vyhral a predsa končí | Voľby 2010. Retrieved on 15 October 2011.
  22. ^ a.s, Petit Press (11 March 2012). "ELECTION 2012: UVK officially confirms Smer's landslide victory in general election".
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ Cunningham, Benjamin. "5 takeaways from Slovakia's election". Politico. Retrieved 14 November 2017.

External linksEdit