By Dag Daniš
If anyone made a profit on the approval of the state budget for 2007 it was Vladimír Mečiar. His gains were not financial, as Smer and the SNS split much more between themselves. They were rather in terms of politics and power: The HZDS forced the concession of another ministry, the deputy director position in the secret service, the post of secretary of the Security Council, and posts in STV and Slovak Radio. Mečiar in December is trying to make up for what he forwent in June.
In June, when the contours of the government were being decided, Mečiar seemed deaf and dumb. He allowed Robert Fico a free hand in choosing his coalition partners and dividing power. Even then, however, it was clear that this was only a temporary ruse. Right after the coalition agreement was signed, Mečiar took up arms, and fairly successfully too.
The problem is that most of the HZDS demands have been known since the summer, and only became the topic of the day because Fico rejected them. The only new element is the additional ministry for the HZDS. And even this is unclear: Viliam Veteška said that the coalition agreed on a new Tourism Ministry, although it wasn't certain which party would get it, while Mečiar said the government had agreed on a new ministry for the HZDS, although it wasn't clear what the ministry would do.
For all that it looks as if Mečiar is scoring points, his HZDS party is still only making up for its losses in the past. Mečiar's post-election fall (and post-election genuflection) was too deep for it to be corrected by a sudden raising of his voice.