WHERE are Slovakia’s most important political decisions currently made? It’s not in parliament. It’s not at Prime Minister Iveta Radičová’s office. It’s not at the ministries. And it’s certainly not in the presidential palace. It’s at the Coalition Council (koaličná rada). The new general prosecutor, the fate of the public broadcasters, or the budget: all these are agreed upon at meetings of the “K-12”, the top three representatives from each of the four coalition parties.
If there is one big difference in the way the previous and current governments make decisions, it is in the role played by the Coalition Council, which under Robert Fico consisted only of the three party bosses and hardly ever met. There was no need for it – it was Fico who made all the calls.
In theory, this shift in decision-making has an advantage in that proposals undergo thorough scrutiny before being passed. But as the search for General Prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka’s successor shows, it can lead to utter chaos. First, the Coalition Council agreed to form an expert group, which would pick a common candidate. After it failed, the proper Coalition Council met, the result being that three coalition parties proposed Eva Mišíková and the SDKÚ wouldn’t say what it would do.
Then came the day before the first-round vote. The Coalition Council met again, only to confirm that the parties remained divided, although the SDKÚ would certainly not support Trnka, as had been feared. A further meeting after the first round concluded that more talks were needed.
Sometimes, party bosses represented at the Coalition Council claim to have control over their parties, at other points they explain that MPs are free to vote as they choose. With twelve people meeting behind closed doors, responsibility is split, and decisions are hard to understand and often changed afterwards.
The coalition could use some good rada (advice) on how to make the system work better. Because if the current trend continues, the public will not be rada (glad).
8. Nov 2010 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila