IT TOOK an entire night, dozens of speakers including many cabinet ministers, and countless mutual accusations of corruption and incompetence, before parliament finally rejected the no-confidence motion which the opposition had filed against the prime minister. Iveta Radičová thus remains in her job, although the turbulent times for her government are still far from over.
Of the 147 MPs present in parliament at around 6:30 on September 14, 69 voted for the no-confidence proposal, while 78 voted against it.
The session, which had only one point on the programme – a vote of confidence in the prime minister – started on the evening of September 13. It was convened at the request of 47 MPs from the opposition parties Smer and the Slovak National Party (SNS), who filed a motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Radičová. The main reason they cited in seeking her removal was what they termed her “obvious incompetence to lead the government and pass important economic, social and financial decisions”.
Smer leader Robert Fico also argued that Radičová does not have the right to continue as prime minister after “her closest collaborators organised corruption directly at the Government Office”, a reference to the case of alleged corruption linked to the construction of a government-subsidised biathlon stadium in Osrblie that has led to the detention of a former Radičová advisor, and after she “covered party cronyism”, a reference to a controversial rental deal for tax offices in Košice which was won by a company, Nitra Invest, owned by Ondrej Ščurka, a member of Radičová’s Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ).
Although all the coalition parties stressed that they stood four-square behind the prime minister, the vote was tense due to the ongoing disagreements the coalition is experiencing over support for measures to change the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and create a permanent European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The measures have been passed by the cabinet but are opposed by the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party.
Speculation surfaced before the debate that some members of the ruling parties, including some from Radičová’s own SDKÚ, might be willing to see her ousted.
However, SDKÚ leader Mikuláš Dzurinda backed Radičová in the confidence debate, and accused Fico of telling lies about the prime minister.
“I’m absolutely sure the prime minister will come out of the debate stronger,” he said, adding that the government too would emerge stronger and more united.
On the night of September 13, SaS, despite its differences with the rest of the coalition over the eurozone bailout plan, stood firm in its support for the prime minister. Members of the SaS caucus displayed small banners in their party’s colours on their desks during the debate which read ‘SaS supports Iveta Radičová’.
SaS head Richard Sulík said that Radičová stands for transparency in politics and that in this election term his party will “rule only with her”.
Radičová herself was present in parliament throughout the debate, and spoke last, early in the morning on September 14.
“I have nothing to do with corruption and I never will,” she said.
Despite the failure of the motion, Fico maintained that the all-night debate had not been in vain because it proved that Radičová was not able to explain the mishaps of her government.
Although Radičová has the confidence of parliament for now, her government’s future remains unclear, pending resolution of the eurozone bailout issue. Political analyst Miroslav Kusý said, in an interview with The Slovak Spectator, that the bailout fund is an issue which could eventually bring down the government if it is not addressed properly. He said he believes, however, that there are still stronger ties within the ruling coalition that will prevail.
19. Sep 2011 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani