Last modified on August 18, 2019, at 21:55

Christian Democratic Movement

Christian Democratic Movement (Slovak: Kresťanskodemokratické hnutie, abbreviation KDH) is a Christian democratic center-right parliamentary political party in Slovakia, a member of the establishment-liberal European People's Party.

It was one of the first parties formed after the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Formed in Nitra on February 22, 1990, by Ján Čarnogurský, a Catholic dissident lawyer, Christian Democratic Movement aimed at bringing Christian and democratic values into Slovak politics. Its program has generally remained unchanged since its creation.[1] Party's political positions can be characterized as a conservative on social issues (especially in regards to church-state relations, abortion and gay rights) and centre-right on economic issues, while remaining centrist and center-left approach to family policy (maternity benefits, marriage and housing support etc.).


During the communist regime in Czechoslovakia (1948 – 1989), Catholic dissent – also known as the Secret Church – played major role in the resistance movement against the regime. Communists were not succesful in their attempts to turn Slovaks – traditionally Christian nation – atheist. Aside from many acts of passive resistance (printing samizdat books and manazines, smuggling religious and anti-communist literature etc.), the Secret Church organized one of the most important acts of resistance against the communist regime and a precursor of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, the Candle Manifestation which took place on March 25, 1988 in Bratislava.[2] At the brink of the 1980s, Ján Čarnogurský, the editor of samizdat magazine Bratislavské listy ("Bratislava Letters") came up with the idea of establishing a Christian democratic party after the planned overthrow of the communist regime. Communists set up to convict some of the top members of the anti-communist resistance movement in Bratislava[3] in a show trial but ultimately failed and only further angered the oppressed masses. Čarnogurský was set free on November 26, after the democratic revolution was already set in motion.

Central to the establishment of the party were two intrinsically contradictory traditions. On the one hand, KDH was inspired by post-WWII Western European Christian democracy parties (such as Christian Democratic Union of Germany) which had abandoned their historical, strictly Christian orientation in favor of harnessing greater political influence in their countries by attracting non-devout Christians and even non-religious voters in addition to their primary voter base. On the other hand, Slovakia had strong historical tradition of "political Catholicism" which stressed strictly conservative and national values, rejected mixing them with other ideologies (especially with liberalism) and was skeptical towards pro-Western orientation of Slovakia. As a result of this ideological contradiction, KDH accepted Western European model of liberal democracy, yet it also retained conservative nationalist tendencies hostile towards anything which would disrupt Christian orientation of the party.[4] This led to the first party split in 1992 when the nationalist wing formed the Slovak Christian Democratic Movement.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Christian Democratic Movemenet/Kresťanskodemokratické hnutie (KDH). In Kirschbaum, Stanislav J. Historical dictionary of Slovakia. 3rd ed. Lanham, MD; Toronto; Plymouth : The Scarecrow Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-8108-8029-0, p. 77
  2. Rybárová, Ela; Vanya, Boris. Candle Manifestation 1988: We went into it like innocent children. The Slovak Spectator. 2018-03-25 (retrieved 2019-08-18)
  3. Catholic dissidents Ján Čarnogurský, Vladimír Maňák, and Anton Selecký, Evangelical dissident Hana Ponická and irreligious (possibly atheist) Miroslav Kusý. They were jointly known to the regime as bratislavská päťka ("Bratislava Five"). See: 14. august 1989 - Bratislavská päťka (retrieved 2019-08-18) (in Slovak)
  4. Kopeček, Lubomír. Politické strany na Slovensku 1989 až 2006 [Political parties in Slovakia 1989 to 2006]. 1st ed. Brno : Centrum pro studium demokracie a kultury [Center for study of democracy and culture], 2007. ISBN 978-80-7325-113-0, pp. 303-304.