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RULING PARTIES SAY LOYALTY COMES FIRST

Fragile pact unites ruling coalition

THE LEADERS of the four ruling coalition parties have made a pact that none of them would team up with the opposition during parliamentary voting.
Similar promises have been made in the past, but occasionally the temptation to push through special interest legislation has been stronger than loyalty to coalition partnership.
According to Béla Bugár, the leader of the SMK, the outcome of the meeting was that everyone agreed to join forces to erase problematic relationships in parliament.


THIS time they say they will keep their promise.
photo: TASR

THE LEADERS of the four ruling coalition parties have made a pact that none of them would team up with the opposition during parliamentary voting.

Similar promises have been made in the past, but occasionally the temptation to push through special interest legislation has been stronger than loyalty to coalition partnership.

According to Béla Bugár, the leader of the SMK, the outcome of the meeting was that everyone agreed to join forces to erase problematic relationships in parliament.

"At least we will try," Bugár said.

The meeting to renew unification vows among the ruling coalition was held at the request of the SMK in reaction to a recent incident in which the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) voted in line with the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) against a bill making changes to a national forest management company, Štátne lesy. An SMK minister had prepared the legislation.

The SMK has also aligned itself with the opposition, however. The party supported the opposition's call to investigate links between political parties and unlicensed deposit companies that collapsed, bilking citizens out of billions of crowns.

Another ruling coalition party, New Citizens Alliance (ANO), helped opposition parties push through several changes to parliamentary procedure. With ANO's help, the Slovak parliament is now empowered to create special committees to investigate public interest issues.

Analysts say that the pact between the ruling coalitions is fragile. Nevertheless, the parties are optimistic about the prospects of keeping the agreements.

Pavol Minárik of the KDH told The Slovak Spectator, "In fact, we have not manufactured any concrete agreement but we have agreed to act in a way befitting coalition parties."

Minárik does not think that the agreement is different from the previous ones, but said the parties acknowledged the need to discuss rules violations.

"In the event of a violation of the ruling coalition agreement, we will have to repeat this [reunification] process again," said Minárik.

The SMK shares the KDH's view. By requiring the ruling coalition to meet after perceived rules violations, the ruling coalition hopes to transmit the message that relations within the parties are normalised.

"The agreement does not mean anything else, only that the partners will create some agreements that will be binding for all. The coalition does not have any other option so we think that everyone will work on fulfilling this agreement," Lívia Pokstaler of the SMK press department told The Slovak Spectator.

The SDKÚ used the meeting to persuade its partners that it has not manufactured any agreements with Vladimír Mečiar's party, the HZDS.

Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda once again declared that a concord between the SDKÚ and his party is a "completely made up construction".

Liberal ANO party Deputy Chairman Ľubomír Lintner told the news wire TASR that there was no reason to fear that the government would not survive its current term.

According to Lintner, it is necessary to create time to seek consensus in those cases where the opinions of the coalition partners differ.

"Politics also results in voting together with the opposition. Everything should be done to avoid the reoccurrence of such situations," Lintner said.

The ruling coalition agreement stipulates that all actions should be the result of consensual agreement. If no agreement is reached, none of the coalition partners ought to submit the controversial issue to parliament until the ruling coalition council takes a stand on the issue.

Under the pact, if any of the ruling coalition parties breaks away to unite with the opposition during a parliamentary vote in order to push through certain legislation, it would be considered a violation of the ruling coalition agreement.


Marta Ďurianová contributed to this report

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