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Still no new NKÚ head

EARLIER this year Prime Minister Robert Fico promised that his ruling Smer party would support the election of an opposition candidate to the top post at the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), the authority that oversees how state bodies spend public money. Yet Kamil Krnáč, a former MP for the opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, failed to get elected to the NKÚ top job in a secret ballot on September 18, when he received only 63 votes out of the 148 deputies present. In order to get elected, Krnáč needed a majority of 76 votes; as the opposition has only 67 members of parliament, the result depended on Smer, which controls 83 seats. The opposition blamed Smer for Krnáč’s failure, while Smer leader Fico responded that the opposition parties themselves failed to support their own candidate in a unified manner.

Kamil Krnáč(Source: SME)

EARLIER this year Prime Minister Robert Fico promised that his ruling Smer party would support the election of an opposition candidate to the top post at the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), the authority that oversees how state bodies spend public money. Yet Kamil Krnáč, a former MP for the opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, failed to get elected to the NKÚ top job in a secret ballot on September 18, when he received only 63 votes out of the 148 deputies present. In order to get elected, Krnáč needed a majority of 76 votes; as the opposition has only 67 members of parliament, the result depended on Smer, which controls 83 seats. The opposition blamed Smer for Krnáč’s failure, while Smer leader Fico responded that the opposition parties themselves failed to support their own candidate in a unified manner.

“If anyone has a problem, it is the opposition, which is mutually lying to one another, but it is not my problem,” Fico said, as quoted by SITA newswire on September 19. He claimed that 10 of his own MPs had voted for Krnáč, which would have been enough to elect him if all the opposition deputies had also voted in his favour.

The September vote is the second time Krnáč has failed to get enough votes; on July 26 he received only 53 votes. Krnáč has now said that he will not make another attempt to become the head of the NKÚ.

“I refuse to participate in this political game and thus I have decided not to run for the position of chairman of the NKÚ any longer,” Krnáč said, according to the official SaS website.

Yet, on September 19 Fico restated that the top NKÚ job belongs to the opposition and that he believes, one day, an opposition candidate will be voted in. SaS plans to discuss the name of a new candidate with the opposition and then inform the media, SaS spokesperson Tatiana Tóthová told The Slovak Spectator, adding, “no one disputed the right of SaS to nominate a candidate for this post”.
Juraj Miškov, the vice chairman of SaS, said the latest vote showed that Fico is afraid of an independent candidate and that the current situation at the NKÚ suits him.

Miškov said he is confident that no Smer deputy voted for Krnáč and that Smer had actually pushed through a secret ballot, as opposed to an open vote, so that it did not have to vote for Krnáč.
“Excuses about the lack of unity of opposition are just bullshit,” said Miškov, as quoted by SITA newswire.

Nevertheless, Fico argued that the opposition did not, in fact, have a common candidate for the NKÚ top post and he said that he would wait for the opposition to submit a candidate who enjoys the full support of the opposition parties. If the opposition fails to come up with a joint candidate, Fico suggested that each opposition party would have to put forward its own candidate, and the one with the highest number of votes would get the job.

According to Fico, at least one opposition party did not vote for Krnáč, and his own party gave 10 votes to Krnáč in the September 18 ballot. However, the secret method used for voting meant neither of these claims could be verified.

Richard Sulík, the head of SaS, responded that “Robert Fico, in the presence of [Speaker of Parliament] Pavol Paška and Miškov, has told me several times, without specifying the reason, that Krnáč is an unacceptable candidate for Smer,” according to the SaS website.
Fico also told a press conference that he would meet representatives of the opposition and ask them to submit a candidate whom they would all support and that this candidate could then be elected without any problem.

Who runs the NKÚ?

Until parliament manages to elect a new head for the NKÚ, it will be led by its current boss, 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 came into 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.

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