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No-confidence debate runs late; vote slated for afternoon

After nearly 23 hours, the debate on the opposition MPs’ proposal for a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government, in connection with the SPP case, has ended. The vote itself was postponed to 13:45 on September 19.

After nearly 23 hours, the debate on the opposition MPs’ proposal for a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government, in connection with the SPP case, has ended. The vote itself was postponed to 13:45 on September 19.

The bid to unseat Fico is all but guaranteed to fail, as the ruling Smer party has 83 seats which gives it a simple, one-party majority. There would have to have been dissent within Smer for the motion to succeed – an unlikely prospect.

The extraordinary session was initiated by Daniel Lipšic (independent, New Majority-Agreement party) and the opposition 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. Fico argues that the deal is a means to guarantee gas prices will not rise.

The postponement of the vote was agreed at a parliamentary gremium – which puts together all caucuses – but not in the plenary session; a fact that Lipšic disliked and criticised, according to the TASR newswire. Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška stressed that the gremium agreed to the delay.

Smer MPs barely attended the debate on the case and did not react. Fico himself was not present, having left on the previous night which opened the extraordinary session immediately after his own speech, together with Smer MPs.

The Sme daily wrote on September 19 that shortly before 2 a.m., Paška acknowledged his fault and announced the no-confidence vote in the government. However, parliament did not have a quorum, as there were only 17 MPs present. Thus, the speaker interrupted the session and set the vote for 13:45 today.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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