This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. C O N F I D E N T I A L BRATISLAVA 000437
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2014
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT-ELECT GASPAROVIC SAYING THE RIGHT THINGS
REF: BRATISLAVA 407
Classified By: Amb. Ronald Weiser for reason 1.4 b and d
1. (U) Introduction/Summary. On April 17, Ivan Gasparovic
beat former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar in the
presidential elections runoff. In the final round,
Gasparovic picked up more than 637,000 votes over his showing
in the first round, receiving support of most of those who
voted for the first round losers, while Meciar only increased
his total vote count by about 72,000. Gasparovic, the
candidate of a confederation of nationalist parties and
endorsed by Robert Fico's Smer, won in all eight voting
regions and in 42 out of 50 districts. Since winning,
Gasparovic has clarified his views on various issues and has
stated that the worldwide threat of terrorism has justified
the presence of Slovak troops in Iraq and that he will try to
support social and economic reforms while reducing their
negative impact on citizens. President Schuster will leave
office on June 15, when Gasparovic is inaugurated to serve a
five-year term. End Introduction/Summary.
Gasparovic Wins as the Lesser Evil
2. (C) The presidential runoff held on April 17 was widely
viewed as a battle between the lesser of two evils.
Gasparovic was able to pull out the upset over Meciar, who
has a stable and disciplined electorate, because Gasparovic
did not have the negative name recognition associated with
Meciar. Although Gasparovic was closely associated with
Meciar during the 1990s, Gasparovic gained votes from people
who supported Schuster, Foreign Minister Kukan, former
Ambassador to the U.S. Butora, and Christian Democrat
candidate Frantisek Miklosko in the first round. Gasparovic
would not have won without votes from Prime Minister
Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU), Bela
Bugar's Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), and Pavol
Hrusovsky's Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). These
voters chose to ignore their party leaders instructions to
stay away from the polls. Many instead chose to vote for
Gasparovic, whom they viewed as the lesser of two evils.
3. (C) Several SDKU and ANO contacts told emboffs that
Meciar, in spite of his murky past, would now behave
"responsibly" and is more predictable that the lesser-known
Gasparovic, who was supported by Fico's populist Smer. SDKU
MP Roman Vavrik told emboffs that he expected that Gasparovic
would assist Fico in reach his goal of becoming prime
minister, even if that meant early elections. (See reftel on
Generally Saying the Right Things
4. (U) On April 19, Gasparovic--who once opposed deployment
of troops to Iraq--told the press that the threat of
worldwide terrorism justified the presence of Slovak troops
in Iraq. He added that each state has an obligation to
become involved in the fight against terrorism.
5. (U) Gasparovic has stated publicly that he does not "owe"
anything to Smer, despite the party's public support of his
candidacy. Fico has echoed those comments, adding that Smer
will not look to the new president for preferential treatment.
6. (U) Gasparovic has distanced himself for the time being
from his alliance with the nationalists that he forged last
year. He told the press that the Alliance of Slovak National
Powers, which he founded, may become a political party in the
future that would be committed to modern European democratic
principles. In addition, he has stated that EU accession
will be a "watershed" event in Slovak-Hungarian relations as
it will contribute to resolving several issues. He believes
that there are sufficient legal rights to ensure the survival
and promote the development of the Hungarian minority in
Slovakia, adding that they do not need special treatment.
7. (U) He has stressed that he will work to improve the
relationships between the prime minister, the president, and
the speaker of parliament in the coming months, acknowledging
that as president, he should not interfere in the coalition's
political disputes. Gasparovic added that it is the
president's role to submit proposals and seek agreement with
the government and the parliament.
Comments of Concern
8. (SBU) Gasparovic, whose only foreign language is Russian,
has already indicated his interest in developing
Slovak-Russian economic ties. (Note: He will probably
receive strong support from Smer as Fico has also been
interested in increasing business contacts between Moscow and
9. (C) Presidential elections conveyed a positive message in
spite of the surprising choice of candidates--democratic
instincts of Slovak voters are more deeply rooted than many
believed. Lacking any clear recommendations from their party
leaders, voters recognized the extent of damage Meciar's
comeback could do both domestically and abroad, and mobilized
to prevent it. Although many questions remain about
Gasparovic, he has publicly apologized for past mistakes and
distanced himself from Meciar's style of government. Many
politicians within SDKU and KDH fear that Gasparovic will
work closely with Fico. To date, Gasparovic has not made any
statements on Roma issues but KDH fears that his nationalist
tendencies may only further fan existing tensions between
Slovak and Roma communities.
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