Nice try. Parliamentary Chairman Ivan Gašparovič refused to receive members of the petition committee for fair elections and direct election of the president, citing infractions of legal procedures.
"No petition arrived [in Parliament]," explained Gašparovič. "A petition is [considered to be] in Parliament only when officials from the Office of Parliament have sorted through the petition sheets, have checked the number of signatures and verified the petition's adherence to formal requirements, and then have submitted the petition to the Parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee. Only then can I put Parliamentary discussion of a petition to a formal vote."
But Vladimír Palko, the chairman of the petition committee, said that Gašparovič was using legal technicalities to conceal his hostility to the petition itself. "The Speaker of the Parliament is deceiving the Slovak public," Palko said. "He is trying to distract attention from the fact that he didn't receive the petition committee, which came to him with the signatures of hundreds of thousands of citizens."
Palko explained that the petition committee would indeed give the petition sheets to the Office of Parliament, and that he was well aware of the legal niceties involved. But the committee, he said, had also asked Gašparovič in a letter dated May 7 to meet with them on the occasion of submitting the petition to Parliament because "this is the biggest petition drive that has ever occured in this country." Gašparovič's refusal to meet the committee, Palko asserted, was a "very rude sneer towards the citizens of Slovakia," and had convinced the committee not to submit the petition officially for the time being.
21. May 1998 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson