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KDH-Smer deal a campaign topic

CHANGES in the judiciary and the protection of traditional family, two topics that are dominating domestic politics ahead of the presidential election, led to a heated exchange in an otherwise calm presidential debate, when the Christian Democrats and their official candidate faced accusations of helping the ruling Smer party.

CHANGES in the judiciary and the protection of traditional family, two topics that are dominating domestic politics ahead of the presidential election, led to a heated exchange in an otherwise calm presidential debate, when the Christian Democrats and their official candidate faced accusations of helping the ruling Smer party.

One day before the presidential election campaign officially began on February 28, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Smer announced their joint agreement to amend the constitution to protect marriage as a unique bond between a man and a woman, and to introduce big changes in the judiciary (see main story on pg 1).

Some opposition parties and several presidential candidates have accused the KDH of helping Smer’s official candidate, Prime Minister Robert Fico, to win the presidential election.

Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) leader Richard Sulík went so far as to say that the KDH and Smer have cemented their strategic alliance and laid the groundwork for a future governing coalition, and suggested the KDH might be preparing to back Fico in the second round of the election.

KDH’s Pavol Hrušovský, the official presidential candidate of the People’s Platform, who faced similar allegations during the debate on March 3 between four presidential candidates (including Andrej Kiska, Milan Kňažko, and Radoslav Procházka, all running as independents), said that inserting the protection of marriage into the constitution is of high importance for his party.

“Even if I should lose all the preferences in the election of president, I consider [the protection of marriage] equally as important as becoming president,” Hrušovský said, insisting that the deal is about “trying to find a solution to a problem that is a problem for the whole Slovak society”. His statement was met with loud disapproval from the audience.

Hrušovský explained the KDH’s stance by saying that the proposed changes will begin the process of cleaning up the judiciary.

Former prime minister Iveta Radičová, whose 2010-2012 government included the KDH, was in the audience at the debate when she contradicted Hrušovský’s argument, saying that the process of cleaning the judiciary began not recently, but back in 2010.

“Our government started the attempt to clean the judiciary, Paľko,” Radičová said, addressing Hrušovský by his first name. Her government proposed 12 laws, including an amendment to the law on the Judicial Council in 2011, which Smer did not vote for and which the president did not sign.

The joint Smer-KDH proposal was one of the most heated topics in the debate, with the audience and the three other candidates strongly criticising the KDH and Hrušovský for this move.

“This is a plain pre-election deal,” Kiska said, accusing Hrušovský of helping Smer to camouflage the fact that it has been neglecting the judiciary for six years.

Procházka, a former KDH member himself, said that the party must have lost its political instinct, or else the KDH is laying the groundwork for a coalition with Smer after the 2016 elections, and he does not believe that the party is capable of such a duplicitous game.

Kňažko said there is no need for any legislative intervention by the government to fix the judiciary. He maintains that simply removing Supreme Court President and Judicial Council Chair Štefan Harabin would allow the system to purify itself.

The Presidential candidates

Gyula Bárdos - member of the Party of Hungarian Community
Jozef Behýl - businessman and civil activist
Ján Čarnogurský - former chair of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)
Robert Fico - chair of the Smer party and prime minister
Viliam Fischer - cardio-surgeon
Pavol Hrušovský - MP and deputy chair of the KDH
Ján Jurišta - former Slovak ambassador to Argentina
Andrej Kiska - philantropist
Milan Kňažko - one of the leaders of the Velvet Revolution
Stanislav Martinčko - businessman and chair of the Coalition of Citizens of Slovakia
Milan Melník - scientist
Helena Mezenská - MP for the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities
Radoslav Procházka - MP and former member of the KDH
Jozef Šimko - mayor of Rimavská Sobota

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