THE UNEXPECTED election results produced a ruling coalition that seemed highly unlikely even some days after the elections.
Smer, who has been ruling the country for four years on its own, was joined by the Slovak National Party (SNS), its ruling partner from the 2006-2010 term, and the centre-right Most-Híd and Sieť. The latter two have, albeit reluctantly, said no to a coalition with Smer before the elections, and many of their voters and even some members are now disappointed with their shift.
“Although the talks have been tough, we have found no issues that would definitely divide us,” Robert Fico, who as a leader of the party with the highest election gain was assigned to lead coalition talks, said on March 14 following negotiations with his three potential partners.
After one week of the nation digesting the election results, quick developments ensued at the weekend. On March 13 evening, the agreement between the four parties was already taking shape, the next day the parties agreed on programme priorities of their government.
On March 17 Fico presented the coalition proposal to President Andrej Kiska who subsequently announced the founding session of the parliament would take place before Easter holidays, on March 23. Following that session, the outgoing government will officially submit their resignation and Kiska will appoint the new government, which will then have 30 days to present their programme statement to the parliament for a confidence vote.
By the time Fico got the official green light to put together a government from President Andrej Kiska on March 9, Richard Sulík, leader of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) that ended second in the election, had already been talking to most centre-right parties about their potential interest in forming a coalition without Smer. All the centre-right parties in the parliament would be part of that government, along with SNS and possibly supported in the parliament by MPs of the party of Boris Kollár.
Béla Bugár of Most-Híd and Radoslav Procházka of Sieť at first both officially refused to talk with Robert Fico. But they changed their minds when SNS leader Andrej Danko declared that his party was not going to be part of the centre-right government.
Most and Sieť seen behind priorities
Following the March 15 talks, the four partners came forward with their programme priorities. Fico insisted that the document is “an intersection of the programmes and priorities” of the four partners, Bugár said that his party has managed to have 90 percent of their programme incorporated into the document.
Political analyst Pavol Baboš admitted for the Sme daily that the document largely reflects the priorities of Sieť and Most-Híd.
“That shows that if Smer wanted to keep them in the government, it had to give way,” the analyst said as quoted by Sme. Analysts, however, also stress that the document in which the parties outlined their priorities is not yet the official government’s programme statement that they will present in the parliament when requesting the MPs’ approval.
While the programme priorities might reflect the programmes of Most-Híd and Sieť, the composition of the cabinet as outlined by the parties on March 16 shows Smer will keep most of the key posts in the future ruling coalition.
Refugee crisis not among priorities
The priorities are divided into 11 fields. There is no mention of no mention of the refugee crisis and the lawsuit Fico’s outgoing government has filed against the EU council for adopting the refugee quotas. While Smer before the elections insisted that the lawsuit will have to stay put, Bugár, for instance, made it clear his party was prepared to withdraw it if it was part of the next government.
The parties want to adopt an effective law against shell companies, and propose a constitutional law on proving the origin of property, in the field of transparent governance, which Most-Híd labelled the flagship of its programme.
As for education, the parties want to increase spending on the sector, and introduce fundamental changes at the same time. They want to invite teachers and other employees in education to participate in drafting their government programme statement. This was what PM Fico had promised the striking teachers before the elections.
The parties also agreed on bolstering civic education against extremism and totalitarian regimes, which is likely a reaction to the good result of the far-right extremist party in the elections.
In health care, generally viewed as the most problematic sector not just due to the lack of resources but also due to the corruption practices that are widespread in it, the parties say they want the opposition to be represented in supervisory bodies of the state-run health insurer Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (VšZP) and the Health Care Surveillance Authority.
The new government also plans to limit the profit of private health insurers, improve the quality of health treatment, as well as to make the use of public sources more transparent.
17. Mar 2016 at 16:00 | Michaela Terenzani