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PARTY MP SAYS KDH IS WILLING TO GO INTO OPPOSITION RATHER THAN COOPERATE WITH LEFT-WING FORCES

Christian Democrats insist on 'pure' right-wing government

THE UNCOMPROMISING approach of the conservative Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) to co-operation with parties emerging from late September general elections threatens to derail efforts to form a largely right-wing cabinet.
With all major Slovak political parties having rejected post-election co-operation with Vladimír Mečiar and his opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) party, political analysts have widely predicted that the country's next government will be anchored by an alliance of smaller right-wing parties and the second-running leftist Smer party led by Robert Fico.
Although the HZDS narrowly leads popularity polls, other Slovak parties have apparently heeded warnings from western diplomats that the country might not be invited to join Nato and the European Union if the authoritarian HZDS returns to power.


RIGHT-wing leaders Bugár, Hrušovský and Dzurinda (left to right).
photo: TASR

THE UNCOMPROMISING approach of the conservative Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) to co-operation with parties emerging from late September general elections threatens to derail efforts to form a largely right-wing cabinet.

With all major Slovak political parties having rejected post-election co-operation with Vladimír Mečiar and his opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) party, political analysts have widely predicted that the country's next government will be anchored by an alliance of smaller right-wing parties and the second-running leftist Smer party led by Robert Fico.

Although the HZDS narrowly leads popularity polls, other Slovak parties have apparently heeded warnings from western diplomats that the country might not be invited to join Nato and the European Union if the authoritarian HZDS returns to power.

But the KDH, expected to help anchor any right-wing bloc emerging from the ballot, remains opposed to a government of parties with substantially different platforms.

The current Dzurinda government, which has been criticised for reneging on reform promises, has since 1998 bound former communists and free-market advocates from as many as 11 different parties in an often unwieldy administration.

"Such a heterogeneous government as we have had in the last four years has great flaws from the viewpoint of domestic affairs, because its ruling philosophy is inconsistent. That's why we are demanding an exclusively right-wing government, even at the price that it is a minority one," said Peter Muránsky, a member of parliament for the KDH.

The KDH, said Muránsky, refuses to work with Smer, and would much rather see the terms of its 'Toleration Agreement' - the party's official vision for post-election arrangements that was scripted in November 2001 - guide the next cabinet.

"The KDH will ask that the government comprise one bloc of parties whose values and programmes are similar, even if these parties do not have a parliamentary majority," reads the Toleration Agreement proposal.

"Naturally, the KDH will demand that this ruling bloc be a right-wing bloc."

The document suggests that if the country's four leading right-wing parties do not score a majority of votes - as seems highly unlikely, given recent poll results - a deal would be concluded with an opposition party to allow the right-wing alliance to rule.

In return, the opposition party would gain the posts of speaker of parliament, director of the Supreme Audit Office, and other top bureaucratic positions.

Political analysts, however, have expressed doubt the KDH proposal will be supported by its potential right-wing partners, many of whom now say the bloc should be content to achieve a right-wing dominance in a majority cabinet.

Together with its possible allies - the ruling Slovak Christian and Democratic Union (SDKÚ) and Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), and the non-parliamentary New Citizen's Alliance (Ano) - the KDH-anchored bloc can expect to jointly score between 35 and 40 per cent support in elections, based on recent polls.

The SMK, which was formed in 1998 uniting right-wing and centrist Hungarian parties, is one of the main advocates of post-election pragmatism. SMK leader Béla Bugár told The Slovak Spectator that there was "no chance" of a purely right-wing cabinet emerging from September elections.

"The proper question is whether it will be possible to create a cabinet in which right wing parties prevail," he said on August 26.

Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda's SDKÚ, too, unites former top KDH members and a more centrist wing of ex-Democratic Union party members.

Dzurinda recently presented a plan based on joint post-election action by the SDKÚ, KDH and SMK, but one that stressed improving the negotiating position of the bloc rather than eliminating non-right parties from government.

The Ano party, having started out as a left-of-centre grouping at its founding last year, now promotes right-wing views, but analysts say the party is too young to have formed entrenched political attitudes.

Muránsky, however, ruled out co-operation with all other parties that have a chance of getting into parliament according to recent opinion polls - the HZDS, Smer, and the recently formed leftist HZD.

"I see an agreement with Smer as very problematic. Fico and Smer are a great unknown. I don't think it is a reliable partner, and that is something which Slovakia needs. My opinion of the HZD is similar, while the HZDS cannot be a part of any ruling coalition," he said.

In case the right-wing does not receive enough votes to rule, the Toleration Agreement reads, the KDH is prepared to support a minority government from opposition.

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