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Is the marriage of the right heading for divorce?

LESS than a year since the triumphant (and more than a little surprised) Mikuláš Dzurinda announced the formation of his right-wing government, a year of attrition tactics by the New Citizen's Alliance (ANO) and Christian Democrats (KDH) has left the right-wing coalition hanging by a thread.
Despite the high profile foreign policy successes, including an invitation to join NATO, the coalition has failed to rebound from a number of squabbles ranging from asinine bickering over cushy posts in state companies to serious allegations of political involvement in the tapping of politicians' phones.

LESS than a year since the triumphant (and more than a little surprised) Mikuláš Dzurinda announced the formation of his right-wing government, a year of attrition tactics by the New Citizen's Alliance (ANO) and Christian Democrats (KDH) has left the right-wing coalition hanging by a thread.

Despite the high profile foreign policy successes, including an invitation to join NATO, the coalition has failed to rebound from a number of squabbles ranging from asinine bickering over cushy posts in state companies to serious allegations of political involvement in the tapping of politicians' phones.

ANO's lack of experience in power has led its leaders to attempt to grab headlines to deal with internal coalition disputes rather than to settle them amicably with its partners, and the KDH reaction to that has been to respond in kind.

The struggle between ANO and the KDH over the spiritual direction for Slovakia shows no signs of abating, with old arguments waiting to be trundled out in the repeated debate on abortion due for September with further skirmishes expected due to the pope's visit and the treaty with the Vatican.

And while the coalition partners should be looking towards some kind of marriage guidance counselling to keep the government going at least until May's entry to the European Union, instead we find both ANO and the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) negotiating with Smer, while Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda has toned down his previous rhetoric against the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS).

The current government may struggle through to its first anniversary in October, but there seems little chance of the four partners making it through 2004. The only question left is whether Dzurinda will manage to cobble together a minority government, or whether Smer's Robert Fico will achieve his dream of early elections.

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