Government disintegrating

THE RULING coalition is falling apart. The conservative Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) announced on February 6 that it was leaving the coalition because one of its main political partners, PM Mikuláš Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), was blocking approval of one of its main political goals - an Objection of Conscience Treaty with the Vatican.

Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, a senior member of the SDKÚ, has refused to sign the draft treaty, preventing it from going before the cabinet for a vote.

While both parties have accused each other of dealing in bad faith, the underlying cause of the dispute is seen as a competition for the right side of the political spectrum in the run-up to scheduled September elections. The KDH appeals to an older, more conservative voter base, while the SDKÚ has increasingly taken neo-liberal positions on economic reform and social policy.

The KDH had declared on February 4 that if the government did not approve the draft treaty, it would leave the coalition, the SME daily wrote.

According to Dzurinda, however, the KDH is using the treaty as a pretext to leave the government. Dzurinda said that Justice Minister Daniel Lipšic, a member of the KDH, had had no cabinet authority to negotiate the terms of the treaty with the Vatican. Instead, according to the SDKÚ, Kukan should have been the one to hold the talks.

The KDH is expected to announce its further plans at a press conference this morning. Even if the party were to pull out of the government, however, it would not necessarily mean the end of the Dzurinda coalition, as the main opposition party - Vladimír Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) - has said early elections are out of the question.

Other opposition parties, including the Communist Party, the Free Forum and Smer, have refused to help the Dzurinda government complete its regular election term.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings

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