President Rudolf Schuster has announced his decision to merge the referendum on early elections with the first round of the presidential elections, to be held April 3.
Coalition parties have reacted angrily, accusing the president, who only recently announced that he would run for re-election, of trying to win the votes of those who are in favour of eliminating the current cabinet.
Pavol Hrušovský, the speaker of parliament, said: "Schuster again showed that he misunderstands his role as head of state. He has put his personal interest in re-election above the public's interests."
The trade unions, who initiated a petition calling for the referendum, were happy with the president's decision, as were the opposition Slovak Communist party and Smer. The merging of the two events could theoretically increase the voter turnout, although some analysts have doubted that: only one of the referenda organized in Slovakia since the creation of the republic in 1992 has been successful.
"The fact that people will go to the presidential elections does not mean that they will also go to the referendum," sociologist Pavel Haulík said to the Slovak daily Pravda.
Slovakia requires a relatively high turnout for a referendum to be valid. More than 50 percent of voters must participate, while in the only successful referendum - on Slovakia's EU entry last year - the quorum was barely reached with only slightly above 52 percent participation.
Compiled by Martina Pisárová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
5. Feb 2004 at 9:24