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Wednesday, September 30, 1998 Published at 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK

World: Europe

Meciar calls it a day

New faces: Jozef Migas (left) and Mikulas Dzurinda

The man who has dominated Slovak politics since independence in 1993, Vladimir Meciar, has accepted defeat three days after he lost in his country's general election.

Speaking on Slovak Television, Mr Meciar said he would not try to form a new government and would resign as prime minister at the end of October.

Mr Meciar, who has also been carrying out most presidential duties since March, was widely criticised outside Slovakia for tending towards authoritarianism and failing to promote economic reforms.

His centre-left coalition was defeated by Slovakia's four main opposition parties in last weekend's vote.

[ image: Vladimir Meciar: Disappeared for several days after casting his vote on Friday]
Vladimir Meciar: Disappeared for several days after casting his vote on Friday
The leaders of the two main groups - Mikulas Dzurinda of the Slovak Democratic Coalition and Jozef Migas of the Party of the Democratic Left - held a first round of talks on Wednesday on forming a new government.

Mr Dzurinda said after the meeting that the opposition parties had agreed to work together to form a new government. "I believe we will have the draft coalition agreement ready by Tuesday [6 October]," he said.

"Official talks on appointing the new government members could begin shortly afterwards," he added.

Election breakdown

  • Mr Meciar's party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), won 43 seats.
  • Its junior partner, the Slovak National Party (SNS), won 14 seats.
  • Another government coalition partner, the Workers Party (ZRS), lost all its seats.
  • The main opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) won 42 seats.
  • The left-wing opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) took 24 seats.
  • The centre-left opposition Party of Civic Understanding (SOP) won 13 seats.
  • The ethnic opposition Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) took 14 seats.
  • Turnout was 84.22%, the highest ever.

Mr Meciar led Slovakia to independence from the Czech Republic in 1993 and has governed in a manner which has brought complaints from the European Union and human rights organisations.

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