HZDS deputy walks out on his own party

Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar's political party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), has lost a deputy. František Gaulieder, 45, one of HZDS's founding members, announced on November 5 he was giving up his membership in the political club because he could no longer identify with the party's policies.
"There are too many discrepancies between promises and acts, between the government's program and its fulfillment,'' Gaulieder told Parliament. "There have been too many activities that have nothing to do with building a democratic society.''


František Gaulieder.
Vladimír Hák

Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar's political party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), has lost a deputy.

František Gaulieder, 45, one of HZDS's founding members, announced on November 5 he was giving up his membership in the political club because he could no longer identify with the party's policies.

"There are too many discrepancies between promises and acts, between the government's program and its fulfillment,'' Gaulieder told Parliament. "There have been too many activities that have nothing to do with building a democratic society.''

Then he ran down a list of what he saw as obstacles to the country's development. şşWhy is privatization not transparent? Why do we pass laws that are anti-constitutional? Why do we offend foreign ambassadors? Why do we seek enemies - at home and abroad, within the church, in the academic community? Why are we unable to investigate serious crimes?'' Gaulieder asked.

Gaulieder's announcement, though considered very brave, was not surprising. He had been unusually accessible to the press and to opposition politicians, and he was often openly critical of the moves carried out by the ruling coaliltion.

In an interview with the Associated Press later in the afternoon, Gaulieder said he planned the move carefully with his wife, but expects no repercussions from his decision. "Fortunately, I've privatized nothing, so there is nothing Mečiar really could use against me.'' When asked why he did not step out earlier, he said he believed things would change. "When the foreign minister says neither a US ambassador nor what he had to say was important," Gaulieder said, "[then] I realized I can't be a part of it anymore.''

In his address to the chamber, Gaulieder said HZDS club chairman Tibor Cabaj and Parliamentary Speaker Ivan Gašparovič pressured him to give up his seat. Gaulieder said Cabaj asked him how much money he take for doing so.

Cabaj denied the accusation, while Gašparovič responded this way when asked by journalists: "You ask questions like secret police investigators.''

HZDS now has 60 out of the 150 seats in Parliament; combined with the other two parties that make up the coalition, the Slovak National Party (SNS) and the Slovak Workers Association (ZRS), the ruling coalition has 81. Gaulieder is the second deputy to leave the ruling coalition. A ZRS deputy, Miroslav Kočnár, left his party in March, 1995.

Gaulieder said he did not expect anyone to follow him. "Those who would like to...are afraid," he said. "And there are many [others] who believe everything is all right.''

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