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ZRS Parliamentary faction dissolves due to exodus

The Association of Slovak Workers (ZRS), a junior government party, saw its Parliamentary faction dissolve after yet another member quit. What started three years ago with the defection of the ZRS Vice-Chairman has gradually evolved into a mass exodus of ZRS deputies to other parties.
Opposition deputies claim that the ZRS Chairman, Ján Ľupták, is finally paying for his political naiveté from the fall of 1994, when he enabled Premier Vladimír Mečiar to create a governing coalition by creating an alliance of Mečiar's HZDS and Ján Slota's Slovak National Party (SNS).
"Mečiar has been using Ľupták for four years as a disposable napkin," said Ľudovít Černák, SDK election campaign leader, adding that Ľupták's total obedience to the HZDS chairman was the main reason for not fulfilling ZRS's election agenda.


Left alone. Following a massive exodus of his party mates, Ján Ľupták saw his ZRS club fall to pieces.
Peter Brenkus

The Association of Slovak Workers (ZRS), a junior government party, saw its Parliamentary faction dissolve after yet another member quit. What started three years ago with the defection of the ZRS Vice-Chairman has gradually evolved into a mass exodus of ZRS deputies to other parties.

Opposition deputies claim that the ZRS Chairman, Ján Ľupták, is finally paying for his political naiveté from the fall of 1994, when he enabled Premier Vladimír Mečiar to create a governing coalition by creating an alliance of Mečiar's HZDS and Ján Slota's Slovak National Party (SNS).

"Mečiar has been using Ľupták for four years as a disposable napkin," said Ľudovít Černák, SDK election campaign leader, adding that Ľupták's total obedience to the HZDS chairman was the main reason for not fulfilling ZRS's election agenda.

Shortly after the 1994 elections, ZRS' support in the opinion polls fell below the 5% threshold necessary to enter Parliament, and the party has never since managed to restore damaged voter confidence.

The first to leave was Miroslav Kočnár, former ZRS Vice-Chairman, who in March 1995 accused Ľupták of undemocratic practices and was tossed from the party in return. Another ZRS deputy, Anton Poliak, quit the party earlier this year, after the ZRS voted along with the HZDS and the SNS to block the return of František Gaulieder, a HZDS deputy booted from the chamber in December 1996. Finally last month, three other deputies defected from the party to join the newly- established Naše Slovensko (Our Slovakia) movement.

After the July 8 defection of Marián Polak, only seven party members remained in the ZRS, and the parliamentary grouping had to be dissolved. According to Ivan Šimko, an SDK deputy, any Parliamentary faction which has less than eight members ceases to exist, at least in Parliament. The ZRS continues to exist as a political party.

According to Parliamentary procedural law, Parliament Speaker Ivan Gašparovič must approve the ZRS parliamentary group's non-existence, which had not been done The Slovak Spectator went to press.

Right after his withdrawal, Polák apologized for his decision to all ZRS members except Ľupták, who was the reason for Polák quitting. "In an evening news program on TV Markíza, Ján Ľupták abused my children and my family for the purpose of his election campaign," said Polák.

TV Markíza reported Ľupták as saying at a press conference that the reason for placing Polák on the ZRS ticket before the last elections was out of sympathy for Polák's four children who lived without their mother. As Ľupták added, their father "does not deserve Ľupták support."

When asked to comment on the destruction of his party, Ľupták grew arrogant. "Go away, why should I answer you?" he yelled.

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