MPs fail to elect next head of NKÚ

IT TOOK a weeks-long tug-of-war for the centre-right opposition parties in parliament to agree on a joint candidate for the top post at the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), one of the very few senior posts that Robert Fico had promised to let them fill. However, Kamil Krnáč, a former MP who was nominated by the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and was the opposition’s sole candidate, failed to receive enough votes in a secret parliamentary vote held on July 26 to be appointed head of the NKÚ. Only 53 of the 146 MPs present voted for him, and well short of the 76 votes he needed to be elected. SaS lashed out at Prime Minister Robert Fico, arguing that he had failed to keep his promise to deliver the support of his Smer party’s 83 lawmakers for Krnáč’s appointment.

IT TOOK a weeks-long tug-of-war for the centre-right opposition parties in parliament to agree on a joint candidate for the top post at the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), one of the very few senior posts that Robert Fico had promised to let them fill. However, Kamil Krnáč, a former MP who was nominated by the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and was the opposition’s sole candidate, failed to receive enough votes in a secret parliamentary vote held on July 26 to be appointed head of the NKÚ. Only 53 of the 146 MPs present voted for him, and well short of the 76 votes he needed to be elected. SaS lashed out at Prime Minister Robert Fico, arguing that he had failed to keep his promise to deliver the support of his Smer party’s 83 lawmakers for Krnáč’s appointment.

“Let them submit a candidate that we will believe is a joint opposition candidate,” Fico responded, as quoted by the SITA newswire on July 27. “If they do not have such candidate, then each opposition party should submit their own candidate for the NKÚ post and we in Smer will decide which of the opposition candidates to support. We have a clear conscience in this matter.”

Fico said that the failed vote over the opposition candidate, who in his words gained only 53 of the 67 opposition votes, indicates that agreement of the opposition cannot be trusted.

“Smer MPs failed to keep their promise, given by their chairman Robert Fico,” said SaS leader Richard Sulík, as quoted by the TASR newswire, after the vote, adding that he would be ashamed if he were in the prime minister's position.

The number of votes for Krnáč indicated that at least 14 of the opposition's 67 MPs did not vote for him, although the secret ballot process used means that their identity is not known (nor their exact number; it is possible, though unlikely, that some Smer MPs were among the 53 who voted in his favour). Sulík said that SaS was ready to nominate Krnáč again in a future vote.

“We want to give a chance to our colleagues to keep their promises after all,” he said, as quoted by TASR, refusing to speculate on which opposition MPs had failed to vote for Krnáč.

Meanwhile, the five opposition parties called on Fico in an open letter to give up what they called “totalitarian practices” and use his parliamentary majority to strengthen the control institutions of the state.

“From a party which is not sharing power with a coalition partner, more respect is expected for written and unwritten democratic rules and customs, and a greater sense for keeping the balance between different parts of state power,” the parties wrote, as quoted by SITA.

Parliament also failed to elect Milan Galanda, a lawyer nominated by Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), to the post of NKÚ vice-president.

Jasovský stays on

The current head of the NKÚ is Ján Jasovský, 55, a nominee of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), a party which has not been represented in parliament since 2010. He was elected to the post back in 2004, during the second government of Mikuláš Dzurinda. Legislation then in force put Jasovský at the helm for seven years. The man he replaced, Jozef Stahl, who had been in office for five years, resisted leaving his post, arguing that he should be given seven years too, even though the terms of appointment were changed after he had taken office. Legislators rejected Stahl’s attempt to stay, saying that the law extending the chairman’s five-year term took effect after Stahl was elected, and thus did not apply to his term.

At the time of his appointment Jasovský had been a member of parliament for the HZDS since 1998. He led the state-owned postal company Slovenská Pošta between 1995 and 1997. In April 1997, he was appointed transport minister in Vladimír Mečiar’s cabinet and stayed there until that government lost power in the parliamentary elections of 1998.

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