DU spared expulsion

A score of foreign journalists left parliament frowning on November 8, the opening day of the assembly's November session. There would be no exclamatory headlines. There had been no attempt to expel the Democratic Union (DU) from parliament, as had been anticipated by many. But it remains to be seen whether the leading Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) decides to reload its barrels with the same ammunition during the next session, once the western démarches are forgotten. "We expected that the coalition would open fire," Ľudovít Černák, a DU vice-chairman, said. "It was probably pressure mounted from abroad as well as by domestic public opinion that made [Prime Minister Vladimír] Mečiar realize he would be pulling the shorter end of the rope," Černák hypothesized. "I only hope he backed off for good and didn't merely crawl into a trench to get ready for another attack."

A score of foreign journalists left parliament frowning on November 8, the opening day of the assembly's November session. There would be no exclamatory headlines. There had been no attempt to expel the Democratic Union (DU) from parliament, as had been anticipated by many. But it remains to be seen whether the leading Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) decides to reload its barrels with the same ammunition during the next session, once the western démarches are forgotten.

"We expected that the coalition would open fire," Ľudovít Černák, a DU vice-chairman, said. "It was probably pressure mounted from abroad as well as by domestic public opinion that made [Prime Minister Vladimír] Mečiar realize he would be pulling the shorter end of the rope," Černák hypothesized. "I only hope he backed off for good and didn't merely crawl into a trench to get ready for another attack."

Dušan Macuška, an MP for HZDS and chairman of the commission that found the DU's 1994 election petition sheets invalid, said the démarches sent by the EU and the USA were not a factor. "No démarche can affect decisions over possible law-breaking. If the DU got into parliament by breaking the law, we can't consider any démarche or fear anyone's reaction," Macuška said. He didn't exclude the possibility of a future vote on DU mandates. "Voting on the DU is still possible," he said.

Such a vote may be difficult, however, because HZDS reportedly couldn't ensure support even within the coalition troika this time. "According to our information, HZDS didn't get support from either of its coalition allies," Černák said.

Macuška said he was unaware of any coalition discord and he still seemed eager to vote on the DU mandates. "I will vote for expelling the DU parliamentarians," Macuška said. "But the DU should first take the opportunity I offered them to compare their copies of the petition sheets with our originals and only after that leave the parliament willingly. If they manage to prove me wrong, I will vote for their staying in parliament," the commission chairman said. In the same breath, he emphasized the impeccability of his commission's two-page report that stated the DU had only 8,219 valid signatures on their sheets.

When asked if he considers a two-page report to be adequate results for a parliamentary commission's year of work, Macuška answered, "Of course. It could have been substantially shorter, possibly even one sentence. It was a report on the results of the commission's investigation, not on its activity. It also could have had a hundred pages. But why should it have?"

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