PRESS digest: PRAVDA DAILY

News item: Justice Minister Štefan Harabin nominated for a seat on the Constitutional Court, causing consternation among government and opposition ranks.


The funnier man wins
By Dag Daniš


Štefan Harabin's march to the Constitutional Court is off to an unbelievable start. As late as Monday afternoon, even MPs for the HZDS party [which nominated Harabin as justice minister - ed. note] had not heard anything about it, nor had Harabin himself. Only some people in Smer had heard something of the sort from Vladimír Mečiar, who had been preparing the ground ahead of time. First he complained how unhappy the HZDS was with its status in the coalition, and said the party would have to "bang its fist on the table".

Then he said he wouldn't support the budget and the new tax changes unless the party's personnel demands were satisfied.

Finally he shocked everybody by putting up Harabin as a candidate for Constitutional Court justice.

Fico's Smer party contributed significantly to Mečiar's growing appetite. In conspiring to elegantly get rid of him, the party made a "generous" offer to Mečiar to take a rest as chief justice of the Constitutional Court. Mečiar refused (he wants to be president, not a judge), but did not release the hand that had been extended. If they were offering him the post of chief justice, he would take it... for Harabin.

One can read all kinds of things in Mečiar's strategy: the desire to conquer the Constitutional Court, to bring Katarína Tóthová into government [as a possible replacement for Harabin], to do business, and to raise the political pressure for nominations to further posts.

But it is most likely that Mečiar has mainly personal motives, and wants to return an insult to Fico.

Fico and President Gašparovič tried to get rid of Mečiar by dispatching him to Košice as Constitutional Court chief justice. Mečiar is now submitting them the bill for this insult - with interest for both the HZDS and his pal Harabin.

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