Schuster to wait until Friday to crown new cabinet

President Rudolf Schuster has refused to give PM Mikuláš Dzurinda and the four right-wing parties that won elections a mandate to form the next cabinet, choosing to give all parties until Friday to negotiate before he makes a decision.

Schuster met the leaders of all seven parties that scored over five per cent support in September 20-21 elections, and thus gained seats in parliament, at the Presidential Palace yesterday.

Dzurinda said he accepted the president’s decision, and that his SDKÚ party along with the Christian Democrats (KDH), the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) and the New Citizen’s Alliance (Ano) of media owner Pavol Rusko would continue talks on forming a cabinet.

The four parties agreed Sunday night to work together, and not to negotiate with either Smer leader Robert Fico or elections winner Vladimír Mečiar and his HZDS party on forming a cabinet.

The HZDS won elections with 19.5 per cent, but the only party which has said it will even consider forming a cabinet with the HZDS is Smer with 13.5 per cent.

The Christian Democrats have said they would like the post of Speaker of Parliament for their leader, Pavol Hrušovský. The four parties have also agreed that Dzurinda will be their candidate for prime minister. Other than that, however, the parties say they will not discuss concrete names for posts in the new cabinet.

The parties likely to form the next government have already agreed that the cabinet will have 15 seats rather than the 20 in the previous term.

Meanwhile, three leaders of political parties – Pavol Koncoš and Milan Ftáčnik from socialist parties and Ján Slota from a far-right grouping – have resigned following their failure to get into parliament after poor election results.

In post election economic developments, the Slovak crown strengthened sharply to almost 42.5 to the euro and 43.2 to the dollar in yesterday’s trading. Dealers expect further movement as a right-wing cabinet is formed.

Deputy PM for Economy Ivan Mikloš said that recent positive developments in public finances made it unlikely that the 2002 state budget deficit would have to be revised as earlier feared by over Sk10 billion. Mikloš added the programme similarities between the four winning parties made it likely the 2003 budget would be more restrictive, and would be approved on time

Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Slovak government’s advisor for the sale of the Slovenské Elektrárne energy utility, said the majority election victory of four right-wing parties would make the utility easier to sell next year as planned.

Slovakia received Sk18 billion ($417 million) in direct foreign investment in the first half of 2002, an increase of 21 per cent over 1H2001, and bringing overall foreign investment in Slovakia to Sk241.1 billion.

The SE utility is the last major state asset the next government will have to sell off.

Compiled by Tom Nicholson from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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