PRIME Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda survived a non-confidence motion in parliament July 4, with only 52 MPs in the 150-seat chamber voting for his ouster after a messy scandal involving the PM's SDKÚ party.
The secret ballot, which had been called by the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) party, also resulted in 35 votes in support of Dzurinda and 18 abstentions. Almost a third of MPs were absent, as the final result came in well past midnight.
The PM said after the vote that he regarded the over eight-hour debate on the motion as "part of the pre-election campaign of the HZDS," and a waste of taxpayer money. National elections are scheduled for September 20-21.
However, HZDS caucus chief Tibor Cabaj said the party's aim had been "to point out the missteps and faults of this government. The voting showed that Prime Minister Dzurinda is not even trusted by his own MPs, with the government's support in parliament having fallen from 90 votes [in 1998] to 35."
In the vote, three heads of ruling coalition parties abstained, including Béla Bugár of the SMK, Pavol Hrušovský of the KDH, and Jozef Migaš of the SDĽ. The head of the other coalition party, Pavol Hamžík of the SOP, voted against Dzurinda, as did his party colleague Marián Mesiarik.
"Of all of them I was surprised that Bugár abstained," said political scientist Soňa Szomolányi, adding the Hungarian party leader had long been among Dzurinda's most faithful supporters. "I think they were all four using the opportunity to express at least their disgust with what has been happening throughout the government's term in office, and now also during the last scandal, where things are still unclear and uncertain."
Dzurinda's SDKÚ in June was devastated by a letter leaked to the press that seemed to imply the party was receiving graft from a state tender for new trains. The affair brought the dismissal of the Transport Minister and the banishment of one MP from the SDKÚ.
However, Szomolányi said, the government politicians had been sufficiently "sensible and responsible" to see the folly of bringing the government down two months before elections.
8. Jul 2002 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson