Political news roundup

June 1 - The Public Service Office (ÚŠS) has officially closed but its chairman Ľubomír Plai remains in his job because parliament forgot to cancel the post when voting to shut down the ÚŠS earlier this year. Plai's term in office officially ends in April 2007.

June 1 - The Public Service Office (ÚŠS) has officially closed but its chairman Ľubomír Plai remains in his job because parliament forgot to cancel the post when voting to shut down the ÚŠS earlier this year. Plai's term in office officially ends in April 2007.

June 2 - Slovak Defence Minister Martin Fedor unveils a monument and a memorial plaque at the top of the Borso hill near the Hungarian village of Hejce to commemorate the victims of a military airplane crash that claimed 42 lives, the worst accident in Slovak military history. The crash occurred on January 19 and prompted the resignation of then Defence Minister Juraj Liška.

June 5 - The Free Forum (SF) party withdraws Branislav Opaterný, one of its co-founders, from its election slate in the midst of a party crisis. SF leader Zuzana Martináková says that among other reasons, Opaterný was withdrawn because his brother asked her to secure him a government post should the SF get into parliament after the June 17 general elections. Opaterný considers the move as a breach of the democratic principles of the party.

June 6 - Transparency International Slovakia (TIS) calls on political parties to present voters with new measures to fight corruption. According to TIS, citizens view corruption, especially political corruption, as the fourth most problematic sphere in public life. TIS says that parties still fail to offer a clear vision of how to eliminate corruption in politics, resolve conflicts of interest, control the financing of political parties, limit the immunity from prosecution of members of parliament and minimize political influence in state administration.

June 6 - The United States recognizes Slovakia's progress in combating human trafficking. As a result, the US State Department removes the Slovak Republic from a special watch list that includes countries which have not shown increased efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking. Slovakia was put on the list in June 2005. However, according to the 2006 US State Department report, the country has improved its law enforcement efforts and made significant steps towards perfecting its witness protection program.

June 6 - Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič refuses to appoint deputy Finance Minister Vladimír Tvaroška to the post of vice governor responsible for monetary policy at the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS). Gašparovič thinks that Tvaroška, whose nomination was proposed by the government and approved by the parliament several months ago, does not meet the legal requirement of five-years' professional experience in a management capacity in the monetary field or financial sector. The government protests the decision and signals that it will challenge the president's decision in the Supreme Court.

June 9 - The Czech Republic's former PM Miloš Zeman of the left wing ČSSD party wishes election victory to Slovakia's left-wing Smer party.

June 13 - Former Culture Minister František Tóth is killed in a traffic accident when his car collides with a train at a level railway crossing in the village of Šelpice. Tóth served as Slovakia's Culture Minister for less than a year, until April 2006. Previously, he acted as the deputy education minister.

June 15 - Ján Langoš, head of Slovakia's National Memory Institute, which uncovers the crimes of Communism and fascism in Slovakia, dies in a car accident in eastern Slovakia when a small utility vehicle loaded with gravel fails to give way to Langoš's car on a main road. Langoš, the former Czechoslovak interior minister, was a few months shy of his 60th birthday. He was considered one of Slovakia's biggest personalities involved in the fight against communism.

June 16- In a televised speech, Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič calls on all eligible voters to take part in the June 17 general elections. Polls suggest that a historically low number of people are planning to cast their votes in the upcoming elections.

June 17 - Around 4.3 million Slovaks are entitled to elect their parliamentary representatives for the next four years in 5,899 precincts. The ballot rooms open at 7:00 and close at 22:00. For the first time ever, Slovaks have only one day to vote. Slovak citizens currently living abroad can send their votes in by post.

June 18 - The election commission confirms official results of the June 17 elections. The left wing party Smer is a clear winner with 29.14 percent of the vote, followed by outgoing PM Mikuláš Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) with 18.35 percent, the Slovak National Party (SNS) with 11.73 percent, the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) with 11.68 percent, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) with 8.79 percent and the Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) with 8.31 percent. Smer will have 50 seats in the new parliament, the SDKÚ 31, the SNS and SMK 20 each, the HZDS 15 and the KDH 14.

Analysts agree that the SDKÚ's result is the biggest surprise of the elections and believe that the fear of a slowing down or a reversing of positive reforms helped the party gain so many votes.

June 20 - President Ivan Gašparovič asks Smer leader Robert Fico to start talks on the formation of a new Slovak government. Fico invites the representatives of all elected parliamentary parties for individual talks. Following the first round of talks Fico does not rule out any of the parties although he admits that programme agreements between Smer and the SDKÚ are very hard to find. Meanwhile the SDKÚ tries to form a bloc with other right-wing parties in order to strengthen their negotiating power but the KDH refuses to ally itself with the HZDS.

June 28 - The KDH announces that it is willing to join Smer in a coalition government with the SMK just a few hours before Smer is to make its final decision on who it will invite into its new coalition government. Smer decides to invite the SNS and the HZDS and immediately starts negotiations on the formation of a new government.

June 30 - The new coalition agrees on the distribution of cabinet posts - Smer will have 11 ministers, the SNS three and the HZDS two.

June 30 - Several founding members of the KDH challenge party chairman Pavol Hrušovský to resign from his post due to the poor election result and failure in the negotiations of a possible right-wing government that would have been supported by the HZDS.

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