The governing coalition is not united when it comes to pursuing its programme, Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) caucus leader Pavol Hrušovský said at a special press briefing on Thursday, June 30. The KDH is one of four parties which comprise Slovakia's ruling coalition. Hrušovský pointed to the way in which Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), another coalition member, voted in parliament earlier on June 30, which meant that a law to increase fines for illegal construction was not passed.
"Without informing us in advance and in an unprecedented way, SaS refused to fulfil a basic programme priority, and we view this as a serious and flagrant violation of the coalition agreement," Hrušovský said, adding that SaS is mistaken if it thinks that it can provoke the coalition in this way. "KDH is outraged at this vote and we're considering further steps so that we can determine whether the coalition is able to govern or not," Hrušovský said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. He did not comment on the moves that he has in mind but said his party intended to deal with the issue at an extraordinary coalition session which it would summon immediately.
KDH chairman and Transport Minister Ján Figeľ, whose ministry prepared the law in question, said that the current situation concerning illegal buildings suits those who misuse the system and supports developers and ignorant people. "We want SaS MPs to say whose interests they represent," he said. The law included fines of tens of thousands of euros, with the highest reaching €170,000 for building on protected areas without a permit. According to the bill, illegal buildings would have to be demolished.
SaS caucus chairman Jozef Kollár said that he was ready to apologise to the KDH."I gave a clear signal to the caucus to vote for the bill," said Kollár, adding that the decision by seven SaS members not to back it was a mistake. "I wouldn't make scandals out of this, such as the break-up of the coalition agreement or the coalition," he added. At the same time, Kollár noted that according to the constitution every MP should vote in line with their best knowledge and conscience, and so parties should not interfere. SaS MP Szilárd Somogyi openly stated that he had abstained from the vote deliberately. "I was surprised to see such a low number of us [not backing the bill]," he said. Somogyi rejected the notion that the developer lobby was behind the way in which the seven SaS lawmakers voted. "[My vote] was based on objections raised in a letter sent by the Slovak Association of Towns and Villages (ZMOS)," he said.
"I have not coordinated my stance with anyone; I just wanted it to go to a second reading," SaS MP Ľudovít Jurčík said, as quoted by the Sme daily. He added that he made a mistake when voting, but he also listed several objections to the bill. "We can increase fines only after we have done everything to avoid them," he explained. Juraj Droba, Milan Laurenčík, Štefan Tomčo, Richard Švihura, Szilárd Somogyi and Stanislav Fořt did not support the bill either, Sme wrote. The liberal SaS and the conservative KDH are regarded as being the furthest apart in the coalition and have already had a number of disputes.
The proposed Coalition Council meeting was finally set for Friday.
Sources: TASR, Sme
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
1. Jul 2011 at 10:00