The Party of the Hungarian Coalition was formed before the general election of 1998 in response to the amended election law which made the candidacy of coalitions of parties in elections pointless. SMK was formed by three parties representing the Hungarian minority in Slovakia: the Hungarian Christian-Democratic Movement, Coexistence and the Hungarian Civic Party. By 1998, these three parties had cooperated together for six years already, and therefore they had no problem to adjust to the new circumstances and to merge into one party. The chairman of the Hungarian Christian-Democratic Movement, Béla Bugár, became the leader of the new party. SMK has proved to be the most stable party on the Slovak political scene for almost ten years. Not only has it kept all internal struggles private and none of the prominent members of the party have left, SMK has also managed to have very stable election results. It gained 10.2 percent of the votes in the 1998 general election and became part of the so-called anti-Mečiar coalition. In 2000 SMK was accepted into the European People’s Party as a full member. The stability of the party and its performance was proved in the general election of 2002 when it got more than 11 percent of the votes and entered the centre-right coalition for the second time. SMK achieved great success in the first European elections in Slovakia in 2004 when it gained 13.24 percent of the votes and two seats. In 2006 SMK again got 11.7 percent of the votes but this time went into opposition, while Slovak National Party formed a coalition with Direction – Social Democracy.
Election manifesto 2006
As would be expected, the election manifesto of SMK is focused on the protection of minorities and of their rights in Slovakia. The Hungarian minority was at the center of the manifesto but it did not make a difference between Hungarian and other minorities in respect of their rights. SMK called for the strengthening of ethnic minorities in Slovakia and for the protection of their cultural heritage. It strongly opposed any type of discrimination. To achieve this manifesto suggested better institutional arrangements to articulate minority interests in the government. Among other things, an ombudsman for minorities and a special agency dealing with their problems were considered. An important part of the SMK manifesto of 2006 was the proposed establishment of a Hungarian university which should be part of the minority educational system and would be set up to protect their language and culture. SMK was a strong supporter of Slovakia’s European membership and its further integration into the Union. Especially important in this regard was the Euro, the common European currency, which according to the manifesto should be adopted by Slovakia as early as possible. The manifesto also supported Turkey’s admission into the European Union.
Election manifesto 2010
The SMK manifesto for the general election of 2010 is in many respects similar to the one from 2006. However there is also a clear and visible change in perspective. While in 2006 SMK considered that Hungarian and minority interests in general ought to be observed, by 2010 the overall situation of Hungarians in Slovakia was viewed not as positively as previously. We should note that the manifesto of 2006 is concerned with discrimination against the Hungarian community in Slovakia. SMK warns against assimilation of the minorities into the Slovak majority. In this respect SMK stressed the need for free use of the mother tongue for all citizens. Hungarian identity is still a very visible element of the 2010 manifesto. SMK called for the organization of Hungarian interests, for example in the form of youth organization, media or a Hungarian university. In order to strengthen Hungarian identity SMK also supported closer ties with Hungary. This goal was to be achieved by cross border cooperation and the connection of the Slovak and Hungarian public road systems. The manifesto of 2010 addressed not just Hungarians but also the second biggest minority group: Roma. For SMK, Roma people should be integrated into the majority population. As can be seen, SMK made some important shifts in the presentation of its program between 2006 and 2010. While in both manifestos SMK stressed the need for protection of minorities and their cultural heritage, in 2010 we can also observe a more assertive attitude towards this goal. This assertiveness stemmed from the increasingly keenly felt fear of cultural assimilation of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia.