Hungarians threaten August coalition departure

Béla Bugár, the head of the SMK party representing the Hungarian ethnic minority in Slovakia, said July 25 that the only way the ruling coalition can prevent the SMK's leaving the government is to change two recently adopted laws on regional administration.

The laws, adopted in parliament July 4, create a new level of regional elected government and pave the way for powers to be devolved from the central government - a key demand of the European Union. However, the laws did not comply with the SMK's wish that a region be created in Slovakia in which ethnic Hungarians would form a significant part of the population.

Other senior SMK officials have said recently that while the final decision to stay or leave the coalition rests with a nationwide SMK assembly set for August 25, the party is in fact already preparing to leave, and that nothing can change their minds.

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