Challenges and Achievements
When Slovakia became independent in the beginning of 1993, its constitution,1 promulgated in October 1992, and its multiparty system provided for a Western-style parliamentary democracy. However, its leadership for most of the period since independence, in the person of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, has displayed strong authoritarian tendencies that raised doubts among some Slovak voters as well as the West about Slovakia's will and capacity to make a success of its new democratic system.
The constitution makes the popularly elected legislature called the Slovak National Council (SNC), whose 150 members are chosen in free, open, competitive elections for a four-year term, the legal source of sovereignty. While the legislature must approve the budget and levies taxes, one of its most important functions is the selection and supervision of the national leadership, which is divided among the president of the republic and a cabinet chaired by the prime minister. The SNC elects the president of the republic for a five-year term. The president is commander in chief of the armed forces, appoints the prime minister, and on the latter's recommendation selects the membership of the cabinet. Normally the leader of the majority party or of a coalition of parties in the SNC is the obvious choice for prime minister. The prime minister and his cabinet colleagues are accountable to and can be removed by the SNC in a vote of no confidence that requires an absolute