Ivan Gašparovič

Ivan Gašparovič

Infobox President
name = Ivan Gašparovič

order = President of Slovakia
primeminister = Mikuláš Dzurinda
Robert Fico
vicepresident =
term_start = 15 June 2004
term_end =
predecessor = Rudolf Schuster
successor =
primeminister2 = Vladimír Mečiar
vicepresident2 =
term_start2 = 14 July 1998
term_end2 = 30 October 1998
Alongside: Vladimír Mečiar
predecessor2 = Rudolf Schuster
successor2 = Mikuláš Dzurinda
Jozef Migaš
order3 = Member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic
Slovak National Council until December 31, 1992
primeminister3 =
vicepresident3 =
term_start3 = June 23, 1992
term_end3 = October 15, 2002
predecessor3 =
successor3 =
order4 = 1st Speaker of
National Council of the Slovak Republic

primeminister4 =
vicepresident4 =
term_start4 = January 1, 1993
term_end4 = October 30, 1998
predecessor4 = office created
successor4 = Jozef Migaš
order5 = Speaker of Slovak National Council
primeminister5 =
vicepresident5 =
term_start5 = June 23, 1992
term_end5 = December 31, 1992
predecessor5 = František Mikloško
successor5 = office abolished
order6 = Attorney General of Czechoslovakia
primeminister6 =
vicepresident6 =
term_start6 = 1990
term_end6 = 1992
predecessor6 = ????
successor6 = ????
birth_date = birth date and age|1941|03|27|df=y
birth_place = Poltár, first Slovak Republic
spouse = Silvia Gašparovičová
party = HZD

Ivan Gašparovič (born March 27 1941), Slovak politician and law professor, became President of Slovakia on June 15, 2004.

Gašparovič was born in Poltár, near Lučenec and Banská Bystrica in present day south-central Slovakia, that time in the first Slovak Republic. His father, Vladimir Gašparović, immigrated to Slovakia from Croatia at the end of World War I and was a teacher at a (secondary school) in Bratislava, and at one point its headmaster.

Gašparovič studied at the Law Faculty of the Comenius University in Bratislava, which is the central university in Slovakia, from 1959 to 1964. He worked in the District Prosecutor's Office of the district of Martin (1965-66), then became a Prosecutor at the Municipal Prosecutor's Office of Bratislava (1966-68). In 1968 he joined the Communist Party of Slovakia supposedly to support Alexander Dubček's reforms, but he was expelled from the party after the Warsaw Pact invasion in Czechoslovakia in August 1968 (see History of Czechoslovakia).

Interestingly enough, in spite of the expulsion Gašparovič was able to continue his legal career and from 1968 to July 1990 he was a teacher at the Department of Criminal Law, Criminology and Criminological Practice at the Law Faculty of the Comenius University in Bratislava. In February 1990 he became the prorector (deputy vice-chancellor) of Comenius University.

After the Velvet Revolution and the subsequent fall of the Communist regime, Gašparovič was chosen by the newly elected democratic president Václav Havel to become the country's federal prosecutor-general. After March 1992, he was briefly the Vice-President of the Legislative Council of Czechoslovakia, before the federal Czechoslovakia split into two independent states in January 1993. Gašparovič temporarily returned to the Comenius University Law Faculty. He was a member of the Scientific Council of the Comenius University and of the Scientific Council of the Law Faculty of that university. In the late 1992, he was one of the authors of the Constitution of Slovakia.

In 1992 Gašparovič joined the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), led by the controversial Vladimír Mečiar. Gašparovič was one of the central figures of prime minister Mečiar's administration that was generally perceived as authoritarian, non-democratic and corrupt. He became Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic (NRSR) after the victory of the HZDS in the June 1992 elections. When a scandal erupted over the discovery of microphones in the U.S. Consulate in November 1992, Gašparovič was asked by Mečiar to head a commission to investigate the background of the affair, but the results were inconclusive. Later that year, when Mečiar's government attempted to close down opposition-led Trnava University, Gašparovič sided with the prime minister, echoing his argument that its opening was "illegal." The West viewed the regime as untrustworthy and the country was excluded from the EU and NATO expansion talks that went on at the time at the neighbouring central European countries.

The period of the HZDS rule was among other things marked by persistent animosity between the HZDS-led government and the country's president Michal Kováč, a vocal opponent of the Mečiar regime. The conflict had gotten to the point where the Slovak secret service SIS was alleged to have kidnapped the president's son, Michal Jr., plying him with alcohol and dropping him in front of a police station in nearby Hainburg Austria, a country where he was wanted on suspicion of financial fraud.

A part of this continuous feud was Gašparovič's widely publicized derogatory comment made in reference to President Kováč not being aware that the parliamentary microphone was on, calling Kováč "an old prick"{"starého chuja"}.

From October 1998 to 15 July 2002, when his HZDS was an opposition party, Gašparovič was a member of the parliamentary Committee for the Supervision of the SIS (the Slovak equivalent of CIA). He was also a member of the delegation of the Slovak parliament in the Interparliamentary Union.

In July 2002 after four years in opposition Gašparovič left the HZDS after Mečiar decided not to include him and some other HZDS members on the ballot for the upcoming elections. Gašparovič along with the other members immediately (on July 12) founded a new party, the HZD, a name bearing a close resemblance to his former HZDS. The cited reasons for the departure were internal disputes within the party, or as Gašparovič puts it, a "protest against the undemocratic way the party is led by Vladimír Mečiar." In the September 2002 elections his party polled 3.3 percent, not enough to win seats in the parliament. After the elections, Gašparovič returned to the Law Faculty of the Comenius University and wrote several university textbooks as well as working papers and studies on criminal law.

In April 2004 Gašparovič decided to run for the presidency against Vladimír Mečiar and the then governing coalition's candidate Eduard Kukan. In an unexpected turn of events, the perceived underdog Gašparovič received the second highest number of votes and moved on to the second round, once again facing Mečiar. The main factor for Gašparovič's first round success was the low turnout of the front-runner Kukan's electorate, as Kukan was generally considered to be a sure bet for the second round. In other words, the majority of the population viewed the first round as a formality, and was saving their effort for the second round to keep Mečiar at bay. Hence in the second round the (potential) Eduard Kukan voters faced an uneasy choice between two representatives of the past regime. Ultimately, Gašparovič, regarded by Mečiar opponents as the "lesser evil", was elected as the president (see Slovakia presidential election, 2004).

Gašparovič's toned down and non-confrontational approach to presidency has increased his popularity with many voters, and he is a generally popular president now. However, to date he has remained unapologetic about his role in the Mečiar's regime, which is generally perceived to have set back Slovakia's post-communist political and economic progress and development.

Private life

In 1964, Gašparovič married Silvia Beníková, with whom he has two children. In his private life, he is a sports fan, mainly of motor racing and of ice hockey, which is the national sport of Slovakia. He was one of the leaders of the hockey club Slovan ChZJD (later called HC Slovan Bratislava). He was vice-president of the International Commission of the Czechoslovak Ice Hockey Union and vice-president of the hockey team of the sports unit ŠK Slovan Bratislava.

ee also

*List of political parties in Slovakia
*List of Presidents of Slovakia
*List of leaders of Slovak parliaments
*Slovakia presidential election, 2004
*Silvia Gašparovičová

External links

*sk icon [http://www.gasparovic.sk/cv.html campaign website]
* [http://www.prezident.sk/?introduction Official website]

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