Vladimír Mečiar

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Vladimír Mečiar (born 26 July 1942) is a Slovak politician who was Prime Minister of Slovakia from 1990 to 1991, from 1992 to 1994, and from 1994 to 1998. He is the leader of the People's Party - Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (ĽS-HZDS). Mečiar led Slovakia to disengagement from the Czech Republic in January 1993 and was one of the leading presidential candidates in Slovakia in 1999 and 2004. He has been criticised by his opponents as well as by Western political organisations for having an autocratic style of administration.

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Czechoslovakia

He was born in Zvolen in 1942 as the eldest of four boys. His father was a tailor, and his mother a housewife. His wife Margita is a medical doctor and he has four children. Starting in the Communist Party of Slovakia, the only road to prominence in Communist Czechoslovakia, he became committee chairman in the town of Žiar nad Hronom, only to be dismissed in the year after the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, when he delivered a pro-reform speech to the national congress in 1969 and was thrown out. A year later he was also expelled from the Communist Party and then added to the Communist Party Central Committee's long list of enemies of the socialist regime. He put himself through the Faculty of Law of the Comenius University while working in a glass factory.

In late 1989, during the fast-paced 1989 anti-Communist Velvet Revolution, he entered the new political party, Public Against Violence (Verejnosť proti násiliu, VPN), which was the Slovak counterpart to the better-known Czech Civic Forum. On 11 January 1990, when the VPN was looking for professionals to participate in the government of Slovakia, Mečiar was appointed the new Minister of the Interior and Environment of Slovakia on a recommendation of Alexander Dubček, who was impressed by Mečiar‘s thorough knowledge in all relevant fields.

After the first democratic elections in Czecho-Slovakia in June 1990, he was named Slovak premier (representing the VPN) of a coalition government of VPN and the Christian Democratic Movement. He was advocating economic reform and continued federation with the Czechs.

In 1990 the political landscape of the Czech Republic and Slovakia started to develop and many new political parties were formed, mainly from the Civic Forum and the VPN. By the end of 1990, some of Mečiar‘s partners in the VPN began distancing themselves from him. First, the party split into two fractions in early March 1991: the Mečiar supporters (by and large members of his cabinet) and Mečiar opponents (led by the then VPN chairman Fedor Gál). Then, on 23 April 1991, the Presidium of the Slovak parliament (Slovak National Council) deposed him as premier of Slovakia and he was replaced by Ján Čarnogurský, the then leader of the Christian Democratic Movement. Three days later, the VPN officially split in two: the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the remaining VPN (since October 1991 called ODÚ-VPN, later just ODÚ). Mečiar was elected HZDS chairman in June 1991. The official reason given by the ODÚ for this split was that Mečiar had become a "dictator".

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