|Founded||8 November 1999|
|Split from||Party of the Democratic Left|
|Youth wing||Young Social Democrats|
|Political position||Centre-left to Left-wing|
|European affiliation||Party of European Socialists|
|International affiliation||Socialist International|
|European Parliament group||Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats|
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Direction – Social Democracy (Slovak: Smer – sociálna demokracia, Smer – SD) is a social-democratic and left-wing populist political party in Slovakia. It is led by former Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico. Smer-SD is the largest party in the National Council, with a plurality of 49 seats (out of 150) following the parliamentary Election held on 5 March 2016.
Originally named Direction, the party emerged as a breakaway from the post-communist Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ) on 8 November 1999. Under Fico, at the time one of the most popular politicians in the country, it quickly became one of the most popular parties in Slovakia, while the SDĽ, which was the successor of the original Communist Party of Slovakia and was the governing party from 1998 to 2002, was steadily decreasing in popularity. In the 2002 election, its first outing, it became the third largest party in the National Council of the Slovak Republic, with 25 out of 150 seats. In 2003 it changed its formal name to Direction (Third Way) (Slovak: Smer (tretia cesta)). In 2005, it absorbed SDĽ, Social Democratic Alternative; a small social-democratic party that split from the SDĽ somewhat later than Smer did, and the Social Democratic Party of Slovakia; founded in 1990, the party became known under the leadership of Alexander Dubček, and adopted its current name. Following the party's victory in 2006, Smer entered into a coalition with the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS). Smer was readmitted into the PES in 2008. It later formed another coalition with the SNS in 2016.
In the parliamentary election of 17 June 2006, the party won 29.1% of the popular vote and 50 out of 150 seats. Following that election, Smer-SD formed a coalition government with the People's Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and Slovak National Party (SNS), a nationalist party. Smer was then temporarily suspended from membership in the Party of European Socialists (PES) on 12 October 2006. The resolution to suspend Smer referred specifically to the PES Declaration “For a modern, pluralist and tolerant Europe”, adopted by the PES Congress in 2001 in Berlin which states: “all PES parties adhere to the following principles… to refrain from any form of political alliance or co-operation at all levels with any political party which incites or attempts to stir up racial or ethnic prejudices and racial hatred.” The PES Chairman, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, explained in The Slovak Spectator that "Most of our members stood solidly behind our values, according to which forming a coalition with the extreme right is unacceptable." Smer was readmitted on 14 February 2008 after Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico and SNS leader Jan Slota pledged in a letter to respect European values, human rights and all ethnic minorities.
Although the party won the most votes in the 2010 parliamentary election, with a lead of 20% over the second-place Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (SDKÚ), they had not been able to form a government because of losses sustained by their coalition partners. Their result, 34.8%, gave them 62 seats in the National Council, but the HZDS failed to cross the 5% threshold, losing all their seats, and the Slovak National Party was reduced to nine seats. As a result, the four opposition centre-right parties – SDKÚ, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Most–Híd – were able to form a new government.
In the parliamentary election held on 10 March 2012, Smer-SD won 44.4% of the votes and became the largest party in the National Council, with an absolute majority of 83 seats (out of 150). The Smer-SD formed the first single-party government in Slovakia since 1993.
Despite suffering a significant loss in support as a result of strikes by teachers and nurses earlier in the year, Smer-SD won the 5 March 2016 parliamentary election with 28.3% of the vote and 49 out of 150 seats, and subsequently formed a coalition government with the Slovak National Party, Most-Híd, and Network.
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|Election||Candidate||First round result||Second round result|
|2004||Ivan Gašparovič (not a member – but supported by SMER)||442,564||22.28||Runner-up||1,079,592||59.91||Won|
|2009||Ivan Gašparovič (not a member – but supported by SMER)||876,061||46.71||Runner-up||1,234,787||55.53||Won|
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Smer-SD provided the following members of the government (2016–present):