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Institutional Design and Party Government in Post-Communist Europe$

Csaba Nikolenyi

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675302

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199675302.001.0001

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(p.173) Appendix C Electoral Coalitions in Post-Communist Elections

(p.173) Appendix C Electoral Coalitions in Post-Communist Elections

Institutional Design and Party Government in Post-Communist Europe
Oxford University Press


Electoral coalitions have played an important role in each of Bulgaria’s post-communist elections. In 1991, the plurality winner of the election was the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), a coalition of seventeen constituent parties and organziations opposed to the continued influence of the ex-communist Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The SDS won a near-majority of the seats (45.8 percent) for 34.4 percent of the votes. In 1994, in addition to the SDS another electoral coalition also made a successful entry to the National Assembly; the Popular Union (NS), which was formed by the Democratic Party, two Agrarian factions that had split off from the SDS, the Radical Democratic Party and the United Democratic Center (Crampton, 1995: 239). The two coalitions won 28.7 percent and 7.5 percent of the votes, respectively. Their combined seat share in the new parliament was 36.25 percent.

The 1997 elections were almost entirely dominated by electoral coalitions: of the five formations that crossed the threshold of representation four were electoral coalitions winning a combined total of over 90 percent of both votes and seats. The winner of the election was the ODS, a coalition that was formed the year before the election by the SDS, the BSDP and the NS. Although the DPS initially participated in setting up this coalition, it eventually left it and contested the election leading another alliance, called the National Salvation. Prior to the election, in February 1997, the SDS resolved to transform itself into a political party (Crampton 1997: 561). The ODS won 52.3 percent of the vote and 137 out of the 240 seats. The largest member of the coalition was the SDS followed by the NS which resolved to form its own parliamentary group after the election with fourteen deputies. The outgoing governing party, the BSP, formed an electoral coalition, called the Democratic Left (DL) with its earlier ally, the Ekoglasnost. The third electoral coalition, the Euro-Left Coalition (KE), was formed by a former BSP ally, the BZNS-AS, the Civic Union of the Republic and the Movement for Social Humanism (Crampton, 1997: 562). Finally, the fourth electoral coalition was the National Salvation (ONS) that was spearheaded by the DPS and included also the Green Party, a faction of the Agrarian Union, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria Confederation (Rose and Munro 2003: 107).

(p.174) The continued dominance of electoral coalitions in the 2001 elections was indicated by the fact that all four formations that entered parliament were such. The near-majority winner of the election was the National Movement Simeon II (NDSV), which contested the race with the Party of Bulgarian Women and the Movement for National Revival. The NDSV, a party that had been founded shortly before the polls by the former monarch returning from exile, was denied registration as an individual political party. However, it could enter the election as a member of a broader coalition, which eventually managed to win 42.7 percent of the vote and exactly 50 percent of the parliamentary seats (Harper 2003: 337). The second largest electoral coalition in the National Assembly was the ODS, which comprised the same three parties as it had in 1997 (the SDS, the BSDP, and the NS) and won 18.2 percent of the votes and 21.25 percent of the seats. The BSP had formed the Coalition for Bulgaria with a number of smaller leftist organziations and parties and grabbed 17.2 percent of the votes and 20 percent of the seats. The remaining seats in the Assembly (8.75 percent) went to a fourth electoral coalition formed by the DPS, the Liberal Union and Euroroma (Harper 2003: 336–8). There were other electoral coalitions running in the election, such as the one formed by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization and the St. George’s Day Movement, however none succeeded in crossing the threshold of representation.

In 2005, two newly formed electoral coalitions entered the race and won seats in the Assembly in addition to the ODS and the Coalition for Bulgaria. The first of these was the coalition “National Union Attack” which brought together three extreme right-wing parties: the National Movement for the Salvation of the Fatherland, the Bulgarian National Patriotic Party, and the Union of Patriotic Forces and Militaries of the Reserve Defence. Similarly to the NDSV four years before, the Attack was denied registration as a political party in time for the elections, which made it necessary to formalize the electoral coalition among the constituent parties. Attack received 8.1 percent and 8.1 percent of the votes and seats, respectively. The second new coalition in the Assembly was the Bulgarian National Union (BNS) formed by BANU, VMRO, and the Union of Free Democrats. The performance of this coalition was more modest as it won only 5.2 percent of the votes and 5.7 percent of the seats (Spirova 2006: 618).

Electoral coalitions scored their weakest performance in the 2009 election as only two smaller formations made it to the Assembly: the Coalition for Bulgaria, winning 16.7 percent of the seats and the newly formed Blue Coalition formed by the SDS, the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (SDS) and two smaller parties with 6.3 percent of the seats (Spirova 2010: 277).

(p.175) Czech Republic

Political parties formed only one electoral coalition in elections to the Chamber of Deputies, in 2002, and once in elections to the Senate, in 2000. The typical form of electoral coordination has been to form crypto-coalitions whereby political parties would accommodate other parties’ candidates on their own lists. In the 2000 Senate election four centrist political parties formed an electoral coalition: the Freedom Union (US), the Christian Democrats (KDU), the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), and the Democratic Union (DU). The coalition swept the polls and won seventeen of the twenty-seven seats that were contested. Two years later, following mergers among the four parties, only two parties remained, the KDU and US and these two formed an electoral coalition for the purposes of the Chamber elections in which they secured thirty-one of the 200 seats, eight fewer than what the two parties had been able to win in the 1998 election running separately.


The institutional restriction of PECs found its most extreme manifestation in the small Baltic state of Estonia. Following in the footsteps of adopting similar legislation for local elections, the Riigikogu passed a law on November 17, 1998, banning electoral alliances and coalitions in future national elections (Bugajski: 52; Lagerspetz and Vogt 2004: 64). As a result, political parties were not able to form PECs after the first two post-communist elections, in 1992 and 1995, even though, as we shall see, they did so extensively in both polls. The 1992 election was held under the newly adopted electoral system that replaced the STV system in place for the last communist-era election in 1990 (Grofman, Mikkei and Taagepera 1999). Under the new system, PECs strongly dominated the electoral competition: in 1992, their vote and seat shares stood at 76 percent and 89.1 percent, respectively. Three years later, however, both their vote and seat share dropped to 63.7 percent and 65.3 percent.

Out of the nine formations that won seats in the 1992 election only two were individual political parties, the Estonian National Independence Party (ERSP) and the Estonian Entrepreneurs’ Party (EEK), while the others were all coalitions. The largest PEC, in terms vote and seat shares, was Pro Patria (Isaama), which consisted of six nationalist and conservative parties.1 After the national elections, the alliance was transformed into a united political party; however, it never managed to repeat its strong electoral performance in the first election. For the March 1995 elections, the Pro Patria formed a coalition with ERSP, which won 7.9 (p.176) percent of the votes and only eight seats. Later that year the two parties merged and became the Pro Patria Union (Isamaalit).

The next largest PECs in the 1992 polls was the Secure Home (KK) alliance formed by the Coalition Party (EK), the Rural Union (EM), and the Democratic Justice Union (EDO). In 1995, the EK and the EM formed a PEC once more and won forty-one out of the 101 seats in the legislature.2 The senior party in the both of these coalitions was the EK, which advocated the adoption of liberal market reforms and the cause of European integration. The KK supported the candidacy of Arnold Rüütel in the presidential election of 1992.

The third largest PEC in the 1992 election was the Estonian Popular Front (Rahvarinne), a successor to the umbrella organization that had united the various reform oriented groups in the last years of communism (Lagerspetz and Vogt 2004: 61). In 1992, the Front consisted of four parties, the largest of them being the Estonian Center Party (ERK), which remained one of the largest political parties even after the ban on electoral alliances was introduced.3 Similarly to the outcome of the legislative elections, the Front’s presidential candidate, political scientist Rein Taagepera, also finished third place. The fourth PEC that contested both the 1992 and the 1995 elections was the alliance between the Estonian Social Democratic Party (ESDR) and the Rural Center Party (EMK) under the Moderates label. This center-left oriented coalition lost half of the seats between the two elections (from twelve to six). Eventually, these two parties were also joined by the People’s Party (PP) in a merger that created the People’s Party Moderates (RM).

There were three other smaller PECs represented in the first Riigikogu. These were the Independent Royalists (SK)4, the Estonian Citizens (EK)5, and the Greens (R)6 (Lagerspetz and Vogt 2004: 86). Another small PEC that ran in the elections but failed to win a single seat was the Left Alternative (VV) that included the Independent Communist Party. In the 1995 election one small new PEC, the Our Home is Estonia (MKE), which brought together three political parties representing Estonia’s Russian-speaking community, was able to win seats in parliament. There were also three other electoral coalitions running in this election; however, none of them succeeded to cross the threshold of representation.7


A detailed account of electoral coalitions in Hungary is given in Chapter Four.

(p.177) Latvia

Similarly to Estonia, Latvian legislation has also restricted the participation of electoral coalitions in national parliamentary elections since 1998. However, while the Estonian law banned coalitions outright, the amendment to the Latvian electoral law allowed coalitions to submit joint candidate lists as long as the association was legally registered (Bugajski 2001: 104). Nonetheless the impact of the law was still clear and present as the number of electoral coalitions that have entered the Saeima since 1998 has clearly dropped. In the first two elections, 1993 and 1995, three electoral coalitions succeeded to have their candidates elected to the parliaments: the alliance of the National Harmony Party and Economic Rebirth, winning 12 percent of the votes and 13 percent of seats in 1993; the United List that combined the Farmers’ Union, the Christian Democratic Union, and a splinter of the Democratic Party, which won 6 percent of the votes and 8 percent of the seats in 1995; and the coalition of the Latvian National Conservative and the Green Parties, which won together 6.3 percent of the vote and also 8 percent of the seats in 1995. Following the next three parliamentary elections (1998, 2002, and 2006), the number of electoral coalitions in the Saeima has essentially remained the same: one in 1998 (the Latvian Social Democratic Alliance brought together the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party and the Latvian Democratic Labor Party and winning 14 percent of the seats for 13 percent of the votes); one in 2002 (the union of the Green Party and Latvian farmers’ Union wining 12 percent of the seats for 9.5 percent of the votes); and two in 2006 (the same coalition of the Green Party and the Farmer Union that won 17 percent of the vote and 18 percent of the seats; and the coalition of the Latvia First and the Latvia’s Way that won 10 percent of the seats for 9 percent of the votes).

In addition to these relevant coalitions, there were other alliances that did not make it to parliament such as three-party coalition of the Latvian Christian Democrats, the Green Party and the Labor Party in 1998 or the Labor and Justice coalition in 1995. Pettai and Kreuzer (1999: 163) find that there were a total of ten electoral coalitions in the 1993 and 1995 elections including a total of nineteen different parties.


The significance of electoral coalitions has varied considerably in Lithuania’s post-communist elections. After the first two elections, in 1992 and 1996, in which they did not play a major role, electoral coalitions became the central contenders in the parliamentary polls of 2000 and 2004. In 2008, however, only (p.178) one electoral coalition ran and crossed the threshold of representation in the Seimas.

Three coalitions participated and won seats in the parliamentary elections of 1992. The most successful of them was the three-party alliance of the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party, the Lithuanian Democratic Party, and the Lithuanian Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees was able to cross the threshold of representation. The coalitions won 14.1 percent of the seats in the PR tier and 11.2 percent of the seats in the nominal tier of the electoral contest. The other two coalitions were able to win seats only in the nominal tier of the competition. The two-party coalition of the Lithuanian Nationalist Union (LTS) and the (NP) won four seats (three and one by the two parties respectively), while the coalition of the (LKDS) and the (LTJS) won a single seat only, which went to the former. Four years later the LTS formed a new coalition with the (LDP), however, the electoral performance of the coalition was exactly the same as before, i.e. the coalition won a single seat from the nominal tier of the contest.

Electoral coalitions became central players in the elections of 2000 and 2004. In the former, the electoral coalition of four parties on the Left, united behind the leadership of former President Algirdas Brazauskas, won the largest number of votes and seats, 31.08 percent and 40 percent, respectively in the PR tier and 32.4 percent in the nominal tier. The four constituent parties of the coalition were the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, the New Democracy Party, and the Union of the Russians of Lithuania. The formation of the Social Democratic coalition was prompted by the rise of a new centrist force in the Lithuanian party system, the New Policy Bloc, which disturbed the bipolar structure of competition between the Conservatives on the Right and the Social Democrats on the Left that had developed since the transition to democracy. The New Policy Bloc was an alliance of four parties (the New Union, the Lithuanian Liberal Union, the Lithuanian Center Union, and the Modern Christian Democratic Union), however they contested the election independently (Fitzmaurice, 2003: 162–3). The New Policy bloc won a near majority of seats in the election (46.8 percent) and proceeded to form a government. However, the government did not last long and was soon replaced in office by the Social Democrats and the New Union, which had split away from the alliance.

The 2004 elections were in close proximity to the presidential polls for the first time due to the premature termination of President Paksas’ term, who had assumed that office in 2000, via impeachment (Jurkynas, 2005: 770). Supporters of the disgraced president, the Liberal Democratic Party which Paksas had founded in 2001, and the Lithuanian People’s Union formed the Coalition for Rolandas Paksas “For Order and Justice.” On the Left, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party and New Union ran together as the Coalition of Algirdas Brazauskas and Arturas Paulauskas. The plurality of seats (27.7 percent) in the election was won by a new formation, the Labor Party, however the Brazauskas–Paulauskas coaliton won the second largest number of both votes and seats and as such it assumed a (p.179) prominent position in the new government, holding not only the prime ministership, in the person of Brazauskas, but also five ministerial portfolios (Jurkynas 2005: 775). In the 2008 elections, electoral coalitions returned to their earlier peripheral role. Of the sixteen candidate lists there was only one submitted by a coalition, the Labor Party and Youth, which received 7.1 percent of the seats in the newly elected Seimas (Jurkynas 2009).


An important anchor of stability in the otherwise fast changing landscape of the Polish electoral system was the electoral coalition of leftist parties called the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). At the center of the coalition was the reformed ex-communist party, the Social Democrats of Poland (SdRP), which brought together a number of leftist formations in support of the candidacy of its presidential nominee, W. Cimoszewicz, in the 1990 presidential polls (Curry 2003: 28). Prior to the parliamentary elections held in October 1991, the SdRP formally launched the SDL, which would contest all parliamentary and presidential elections until it was eventually transformed into a single political party in April 1999 (Curry 2003: 44). An important part of the reason for this transformation had to do with the need to comply with the rule which stated that trade unions could no longer run in elections and that organizations could not formally belong to political parties (Millard 2003: 70). Given that the second most important member of the SLD was a trade union, the All Poland Trade Union Coalition (OPZZ), the transformation was necessary (Curry 2003: 51). The dominance of the coalition by the SdRP was indicated by the prevalence of the party’s candidates on the coalition’s candidate lists as well as among its successfully elected deputies. In the 1991 elections thirty-nine of the SLD’s sixty-one deputies in the Sejm were SdRP candidates followed by eighty-six out of 173 in 1993 (Markowski, 2002: 58). Very little is recorded about the other members of the electoral coalition, which “were of a much more mercurial nature” (Zubek, 1995: 291).

The first post-communist election in Poland resulted in the most fragmented of all parliaments in the region since 1990. Among the twenty-nine formations that entered the fractured Sejm in that election, five were electoral coalitions: the SLD, which won the plurality of both votes and seats; the Catholic Electoral Action (WAK) centered around the Christian National Union (ZChN); the Peasant Party–Programmatic Alliance which brought together the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) with the Union of Rural Youth; the Peasant Accord comprising the Polish Peasant Party Solidarity, the Solidarity of Private Farmers, and the Polish Peasant Party–Wilkanow (Jasiewicz 1992: 498); the Christian Democracy, a coalition headed by the Christian Democratic Labor Party (Millard 1992: 844). In addition to these (p.180) coalitions, the Confederation of Independent Poland (KPN) linked its lists for vote counting and seat allocation purposes with two small formations, the Polish Western Union, and the Alliance of Women Against Hardships. After the elections, these parties formed one united parliamentary faction (Jasiewicz 1992: 498). The combined vote and seat shares of the five electoral coalitions were 37.2 percent and 41.3 percent.

In the early elections of 1993, only two formally registered electoral coalitions participated: the SLD and the Catholic Election Committee “Fatherland.” The latter was formed by four parties: the Christian National Union (ZChN), the Conservative Party, the Party of Christian Democracy (PChD), and the Christian-Peasant Party (SLCh). While the SLD not only crossed the mandatory 8 percent threshold for coalitions but it actually won a plurality of both votes and seats in the Sejm, the Fatherland coalition received only 6.4 percent of the votes and, therefore, was not represented in parliament (Millard 1994: 491). It is worth noting, however, that the coalition would have qualified for parliamentary seats if it had run in the election as a single political party. A similar miscalculation prevented another electoral coalition on the Right, the AWSP, from entering parliament in 2001, as we shall see.

The 1997 election was a bipolar contest dominated by two electoral coalitions: the SLD and the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), which was formed on June 8, 1996, by the Solidarity Trade Union and twenty-one other right-wing parties and groups with the avowed goal of “creating an electoral bloc, capable of winning the next parliamentary elections” (Wenzel 1998: 144). By the time of the election the membership of the AWS coalition had grown to include thirty-five parties and groups (Szcerbiak 2004: 62; 1999: 84; Rose and Munro 2003: 234). The combined vote and shares of two electoral coalitions were 60.9 percent and 79.4 percent, respectively. The AWS won the plurality of both votes and seats (33.8 percent and 43.7 percent) and proceeded to form Poland’s next government in coalition with the Freedom Union (UW).

In the 2001 elections, fifteen lists competed for seats in the Sejm. Of these only two were submitted by formal electoral coalitions: the first by the SLD and the UP, and the second by remnants of the outgoing governing coalition, renamed as the Solidarity Electoral Action of the Right (AWSP) including the RS AWS, ZChN, and the PPChD (Millard 2003; Szczerbiak, 2002: 49). According to the revised electoral law, coalitions had to meet an 8 percent national threshold in order to qualify for seats. The SLD-UP coalition had no difficulty meeting this requirement; winning 41.04 percent of the vote the coalition swept the elections and collected 47 percent of the seats in the Sejm. In stark contrast, the AWS electoral coalition secured a mere 5.6 percent of the total national vote and, therefore, did not qualify for seats. Other parties, such as Law and Justice or the League of Polish Families formed hidden coalitions but they contested the election as individual single parties. In retrospect, had the AWSP done so it would have qualified for seats in the newly elected parliament. However, by registering for the (p.181) electoral competition as a coalition the AWSP scored a major “own goal” (Szczerbiak 2004: 68).

In the 2005 Polish election twenty-two candidate lists were submitted, all of them by individual political parties and other associations permitted by Polish electoral law. Two years later, in 2007, there were only ten competing candidate lists and one of them was submitted by a registered electoral coalition of parties: the Coalition of Left and Democracy consisting of the SLD, SDPL, PD, and UP. The coalition ran a total of 889 candidates, close to the maximum 920, and was represented in each of the country’s forty-one districts. Although the coalition formally consisted of four political parties its lists also accommodated candidates that either belonged to other parties or had no explicit partisan affiliation. As a matter of fact, non-partisan candidates accounted for 15 percent of all coalition candidates, second only to the SLD, which ran 55 percent thereof. Of the remaining three parties, the SDPL ran 13.3 percent of the candidates, followed by PD’s 10.1 percent and the UP’s 4.2 percent. The overall electoral performance of the coalition was weak as it received only 13.15 percent of the total national vote and secured only 11.52 percent of the seats (fifty-three out of 460) in the Sejm. The majority of these seats (thirty-seven) were won by the SLD, the largest member of the coalition, followed by the SDPL with ten seats and the PD with a single seat. The remaining five seats were secured by non-partisan candidates.


The 1992 parliamentary election featured one relevant electoral coalition: the Democratic Convention of Romania. The genesis of the Convention lay in the formation of a parliamentary alliance among the opposition parties in 1991 leading to the creation of an electoral coalition under the label of the National Convention for the Installation of Democracy. At its foundation, the Convention brought together six political parties, however, its membership quickly swelled to double that number (International Republican Institute 1992: 15). The Convention successfully contested the municipal elections that were held in February 1992 by winning five of the mayoral races including the capital city Bucharest. Prior to the parliamentary elections held later on in the Fall of 1992 one of its founding parties, the National Liberals, left the Convention. The exit of the Liberals not only forced the Convention to change its name, adopting the Democratic Convention of Romania label, but it also meant that the Convention became dominated by the National Peasant Party–Christian Democrats (PNT–CD). Indeed, PNT–CD candidates filled almost a majority of the spots on the coalition’s candidate lists and it was also the party’s nominee, Emil Constantinescu, who represented the Convention in the presidential race (International Republican Institute 1992: 32–3).8 Of the eighty-two seats that the Convention won in the Chamber the (p.182) PNT-CD held forty-two, while in the Senate the party held twenty-one of the Convention’s thirty-four seats (Stan 2005a: 188). Although the Convention lost both the parliamentary and the presidential elections, it won only 10 percent fewer parliamentary seats than the largest party, the Democratic National Salvation Front. In contrast, the largest party in 1990, the National Salvation Front won 59 percent and 66 percent more seats than the second largest party in the Chamber and the Senate, respectively.

In 1996, two of the three electoral coalitions that entered the electoral race were able to win seats in the national legislature. The most successful coalitions were the Democratic Convention of Romania, which won not only the plurality of seats in both chambers of parliament as well as captured the presidency, and the Social Democratic Union, which ended up with the third largest number of seats in both the Chamber and the Senate. Six political parties ran together and won parliamentary representation on the Democratic Convention list: the National Peasant Party–Christian Democrats, the National Liberal Party, the National Liberal Party–Democratic Convention, the Alternative Romania Party, the Ecologist Party of Romania, and the Romanian Ecologist Federation. The balance of gains among the coalition partners was very uneven with the National Peasant Party winning almost 68 percent of the 122 seats that the coalition won in the Chamber and 51 percent of the coalition’s fifty-three seats in the Senate. The Social Democratic Union was a coalition of the Democratic Party, formed and led by the Romania’s first post-communist prime minister, Petre Roman, and the Social Democratic Party. Similarly to the Convention, the partners in this coalition also made very uneven gains with the Democratic Party bagging 81 percent of the coalition’s fifty-three seats in the Chamber and 96 percent of the twenty-three coalition seats in the Senate. The third electoral coalition that contested the polls was the National Liberal Alliance of the Civic Alliance Party and Liberal Party 93. However, this coalition did not win a single seat in either chamber of parliament.

Four years later, in the general election of 2000, the National Liberals once again left the Democratic Convention and contested the election on their own. The strategy worked; while the Liberals were able to cross the threshold of parliamentary representation, the truncated CDR-2000 secured only 5 percent of the national vote, which was not sufficient for an electoral coalition. At the same time, the electoral coalition of the Left, bringing together the Social Democracy Party of Romania (PDSR), the Social Democratic Party (PSDR) and the Humanist Party (PUR) under the name of the Democratic Social Pole of Romania, won a near-majority of seats in both the Chamber (44.9 percent) and the Senate (46.4 percent) as well as the presidential race (Popescu 2003: 331).

The 2004 election was a straightforward contest between two large electoral coalitions: the National Union Alliance, formed by the Social Democrats, an amalgamation of the PDSR and the PSDR, and the Humanist Party on the Left, and the Justice and Truth alliance, formed by the Liberal and the Democratic Parties, on the Right. As in 2000, the electoral coalition of the Left was clearly (p.183) dominated by one party, the Social Democrats, which won 86 percent of the coalition’s 132 seats in the Chamber, whereas the Justice and Truth alliance was much more balanced: the Liberals won sixty-four against the Democrat’s forty-eight seats. According to the pre-electoral agreement between the latter two parties, the coalition initially nominated Theodor Stolojan, of the Liberal Party, as its presidential candidate and Traian Basescu, of the Democratic Party, to the post of prime minister. Shortly before the elections, however, Stolojan had to withdraw from the race leaving Basescu as the coalition’s presidential candidate and Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, a founding member of the Liberal Party and co-chair of the Justice and Truth Alliance, as the coalition’s prime ministerial nominee. The election produced a most unusual outcome: although the PSD–PUR coalition won more seats than the PNL–PDL, the latter was invited to form a government by the newly elected president, Basescu, who had led the junior partner in that coalition (Stan 2005b; Downs 2006). Four years later, in 2008, the PSD renewed its coalition with the Conservative Party, which was the renamed Humanist Party, while the Justice and Truth alliance had fallen apart (Downs, 2009; Stan, 2009; Marian, 2010).


The importance of electoral coalitions has steadily declined over time in Slovakia’s parliamentary elections. In 1994, the first election to the parliament of independent Slovakia, the three largest contenders were electoral coalitions while the fourth largest party was a crypto-coalition. The former included the coalitions of the HZDS and the RSS, which won the election by securing 40.6 percent of the seats; the Common Choice (SV) coalition of four parties, the SDL, SDSS, ZRS, and the HP; and a coalition of three Hungarian ethnic parties, the Coexistence Party, the MOS, and the MKDH. The only crypto-coalition that ran in the election and won seats in the National Council was the list of the KDH which accommodated one successful candidate of the DS. (International Republic Institute, 1999: 35–6).

In response to the new regulations that the 1998 electoral reform imposed on electoral coalitions, all of the contenders that submitted candidate lists for the 1998 parliamentary elections did so on their own, formally. Similarly, electoral coalitions were not formed in the subsequent elections of 2002 and 2006 either even though the graduated threshold for electoral coalitions was re-introduced in 1999 (Malova and Ucen, 2007: 1101; Rybar, 2007: 700). Although crypto coalitions were banned under the terms of the electoral change of 1998, the coalition partners of the outgoing government (HZDS and SNS) did accommodate candidates from other parties on their lists.9 The three Hungarian parties merged to form a single (p.184) political party, the SMK, while two former members of Common Choice, the SDSS and the ZRS, formed a new electoral party, the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), together with the DU, DS and the KDH. For our purposes, it is appropriate to consider the SDK an electoral coalition because its five constituent members retained their own internal platforms in contrast to the SMK (Meseznikov, 2003: 43).

After the 1998 election, the restrictive regulations on electoral coalitions were reversed. As a result political parties engaged in a series of attempts to form coalitions before the polls in 2002. However, none of these attempts succeeded. The PSNS and the SNS were unable to agree on whether to form a real electoral coalition, which was the PSNS’ preference, or a hidden coalition that would have accommodated PSNS candidates on the SNS list (Meseznikov 2003: 44). Similarly, the movement to create a broad electoral coalition of all non-leftist parties, proposed and advocated by the recently formed Alliance of the New Citizen (ANO), was not acceptable to all prospective members. In an interesting development, the DS formed a hidden coalition with the DU by accommodating the latter’s candidates on its list, however, it subsequently withdrew from the election according to a pact it made with the SDKU (Meseznikov 2003: 44). The SDL tried to form an electoral coalition of the leftist parties, however, the efforts result only in a hidden coalition where the SDL included candidates from the SDSS and the SOP (Fitzmaurice, 2004: 161; Ucen, 2003: 1071). Although none of them came to fruition, there were several additional attempts at forming electoral coalitions prior to the 2002 elections.


Electoral coalitions have not played a major role in Slovenian elections. Although political parties clustered into two distinct blocs in each of the country’s post-communist elections, they submitted individual candidate lists for the most part. Indeed, among all the contenders that have won seats in the country’s five post-communist elections, I found only two electoral coalitions. The first was the United List of Social Democrats (ZLDS), which started in 1992 as an electoral coalition of the Party of Democratic Reform, the Social Democratic Union, and the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia. However, the coalition was transformed into a political party in 1993 and contested the subsequent elections as such (Rose and Munro 2003: 298). In the 1992 election the ZLSD won the third highest percentage of votes (13.6 percent) and seats (15.6 percent). The second electoral coalition was formed only much later in 2008 between the Slovenian People’s Party (SLS) and the Youth Party of Slovenia (SMS). The coalition secured 5.21 percent of the vote and won five seats all of which went to SLS candidates (Fink-Hafner, 2009: 1112).


(1) . Lagerspatz and Vogt (2004: 86) list the following parties and constituents of the Pro Patria PEC: the Christian Democratic Party (EKDE), the Christian Democratic Union (EKDL), the Liberal Democratic Union (ELL), the Estonian Liberal Democratic Party (ELP), the Conservative Peoples’ Party (EKR), and the Republican Coalition Party (EVK). According to Bugajski, however, the Pro Patria was “a coalition of four national conservative parties” (72).

(2) . In 1995, the two parties were also joined by the Country People’s Party, the Pensioners’ and Families’ Union, and the Farmers’ Assembly in the electoral coalition. (Lagerspetz and Vogt 2004: 87).

(3) . In 1992, the Front comprised the Popular Front of Estonia (ER), the ERK, the Assembly of Nations in Estonia (ERU), and the Women’s Union (EN). Running alone, the Center Party won a plurality of the seats in both 1999 and 2003. In the latter it finished neck-to-neck with the brand new Res Publica, each winning twenty-eight seats.

(4) . The SK comprised the Royalist Party (ERP) and the Royalist Association Free Toome (RuVT).

(5) . The EK included the Party of the Republic of Estonia (EVP), the Association of Legal Real Estate Owners in Tartu (TOOU), and the Association of Healthy Life in Noarootsi (NTES).

(6) . The Greens list consisted of the Green Movement (ERL), the Green Party (EER), the European Youth Forest Action in Estonia (KENME), the Maardu Green League (URM), and the Green Regiment (RR).

(7) . These PECs were Justice, the Better Estonia, and the Fourth Force.

(8) . According to the International Republican Institute report, the breakdown of candidates among the coalition partners was as follows: PNT–CD 45 percent, Civic Alliance Party 18 percent, the PNL–CD and the PNL–AT, two splinters of the PNL, 14 percent, and the PDSR 9 percent.

(9) . The HZDS list included candidates of the New Agrarian Party and the Party of Businessmen and Entrepreneurs, while the SNS list included candidates form the Slovak Green Alliance and the Christian Social Union (International Republican Institute 1999: 9).