Slovaks will go to the ballot boxes on June 17 - three months earlier than scheduled - in premature general elections as a result of this week's collapse of the country's coalition government.
Originally, elections were to have been held in mid-September, but yesterday the leaders of all of Slovakia's parliamentary parties decided to advance the vote rather than try and patch up the government crisis.
The crisis was triggered when the Christian Democrats (KDH) quit the ruling coalition on Monday, calling Dzurinda a liar and a traitor for refusing to allow a treaty on objections of conscience with the Vatican - one of the KDH's most cherished political aims - to reach the cabinet for a vote.
The cabinet was expected to approve a bill on early elections, which needs two-thirds majority support in the 150-seat parliament to pass, on February 8.
Until June 17, an interim cabinet led by current PM Mikuláš Dzurinda is expected to hold office, according to Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ).
Robert Fico, leader of the strongest opposition party, Smer, and a vocal opponent of the ruling coalition, said his party's main goal was to achieve early elections. He did not say whether Smer would try to have Dzurinda's ministers or the PM himself recalled by parliament.
Dzurinda's cabinet is now much slimmer after Justice Minister Daniel Lipšic, Interior Minister Vladimír Palko and Education Minister Martin Fronc, all members of the KDH, resigned on February 7.
It is expected that the SDKÚ will appoint its nominees to the vacant ministerial posts. Its proposals are expected today.
Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Pavol Hrušovský also resigned from his post and temporarily tasked his deputy, Hungarian Coalition Party Chairman Béla Bugár, with performing his duties. Bugár needs 76 votes in parliament to be confirmed in the post.
Smer has already expressed opposition to Bugár's nomination.
Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports. The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of its flash postings.
8. Feb 2006 at 11:41