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All-night parliamentary session sees skirmish, no-confidence vote delayed

Opposition MP Daniel Lipšic (independent, New Majority-Agreement party) sought to argue that Prime Minister Robert Fico and his cabinet are controlled by private financial groups and fail to govern in the public interest at the outset of parliament’s special session September 17. But a planned no confidence vote, which Fico and his controlling majority in parliament were all but guaranteed to survive, was later postponed.

Opposition MP Daniel Lipšic (independent, New Majority-Agreement party) sought to argue that Prime Minister Robert Fico and his cabinet are controlled by private financial groups and fail to govern in the public interest at the outset of parliament’s special session September 17. But a planned no confidence vote, which Fico and his controlling majority in parliament were all but guaranteed to survive, was later postponed.

Fico called the planned no-confidence vote “absurd” in a 45 minute speech that ended with him and other Smer party MPs walked out. The extraordinary session was initiated by opposiiton in the wake of government plans to acquire the remaining 49 percent of shares in the mother company of gas utility SPP from Czech-based firm Energetický a Prúmyslový Holding (EPH). This is viewed by the opposition as a largely disadvantageous move for the state to the benefit of private financial groups. Lipšic argues such suspicions are confirmed by metadata from J & T financial group that appears in the draft version of the agreement.

“The opposition’s motion for a no-confidence vote in me and the government as a whole is absurd,” Fico said, arguing that the deal is a means to guarantee gas prices will not rise. Smer’s 83 seats gives it a simple, one-party majority, meaning that there would have to have been dissent within Smer for the opposition’s motion to succeed – and unlikely prospect.
Smer MPs departure prompted some boisterous outrage from a clutch of visitors to the session, with Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška subsequently interrupting the session, TASR wrote. Paška then granted the opposition MPs their request to call an MPs gremium – which brings together representatives of all parliamentary caucuses.

Voicing his unhappiness concerning the decision to extend the extraordinary parliamentary session into the night, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) leader Igor Matovič said that he’s planning an all-nighter – extending the session even further so that it will still be going on September 18. This should enable all those who have something to say on the government’s plans to have their say [in the daytime Wednesday, when people are paying attention], he said. In response to the departure of Fico and Smer MPs from the chamber, Matovič put up an effigy of Fico in front of the speaker’s desk. It displays a message to the effect that Fico is guilty of giving Slovakia away to the nouveau riche – financial groups such as the J & T.

The daily Sme described the course of the night-long special session of parliament: for four hours, Matovič has been reading the whole government document proposing the purchase of SPP, finishing at 23:00 when some visitors disrupted the session and Speaker of Parliament Paška interrupted it for half an hour. Then, a debate among opposition MPs about the document continued, with the repeated question directed at the government was – why should gas prices be reduced and controlled, and not he electric power or petrol prices?

The paper dummy of Fico became the bone of contention, as a skirmish erupted first in the parliamentary room itself (before midnight) and later outside in the lobby where OĽaNO MP Jozef Viskupič were attacked by five Smer MPs when defending the dummy and preventing them from taking it away. Viskupič was treated by the parliamentary medical service with minor injuries. He alleges that they were all drunk. Even before this incident, some opposition MPs called for alcohol tests to be done on Smer deputies, Sme wrote.

The extraordinary session finished at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, bringing no progress in the no-confidence vote. At 9 a.m. the regular 23rd session shall begin, with the special session on SPP and no-confidence vote to begin again in the evening, at 19:00.

(Source: 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.

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