Two constitutional officials are in hospital

Slovakia is experiencing an unusual situation: two of its three top constitutional officials are in hospital.

PM Robert FicoPM Robert Fico (Source: TASR)

As Prime Minister Robert Fico was resting in hospital after he underwent coronary bypass surgery on April 22 Parliament Speaker Andrej Danko underwent stomach surgery three days later. Both need a few weeks to recover which raises questions about how the top state bodies will operate.

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“This will decrease the government’s power to act for sure,” Political analyst Grigorij Mesežnikov, president of the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) told the Sme daily.

Smer party head Fico was hospitalised on April 14, after feeling pain in his chest and problems with his heart. Doctors discovered during the examination that he has constricted blood vessels. Though he was first supposed to stay at the hospital overnight, doctors kept him there the whole week at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NÚSCH).

Read also: Health care needs cleaning, new minister could deliver Read more 

Head of the Slovak National Party (SNS) Danko visited the National Oncology Institute (NOU) to undergo medical examination due to stomach problems. The results showed that he needs surgery. 

“They found something in my stomach and it all depends on the process and progress of the operation, but I hope that I'll suffer through it and will be able to continue with my work,” said Danko during an April 24 debate of private broadcaster TA3.

Fico’s surgery

Fico underwent surgery at NÚSCH in which doctors tried to divert blockage of the coronary artery at two places, the Denník N wrote. Such an operation is done under general anesthesia and lasts three-six hours, according to the Czech cardiologists approached by Sme.

After such surgery the patient must remain a week in hospital and then he or she could be sent to a spa for further rehabilitation which takes around three weeks. In general, those patients can work again after six-eight weeks.

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“He can serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations,” Ján Pirk of the Czech Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine responded to Sme’s question whether Fico will be able to serve as Prime Minister after such surgery.

Paradoxically, Fico in 2015 said that state bodies will monitor all Muslims living in Slovakia and that it is hard to integrate people with a totally different cultural background. However, the head of  NÚSCH is Mongi Msolly of Tunisia where 98 percent of all citizens are Muslims, Islam Foundation in Slovakia pointed out.

“It seems that wrong mother country doesn’t automatically mean a threat,” the foundation writes in its webpage.

Read also: Prosecutor’s office deals with Fico’s statements Read more 

Agreement within Smer

There is an agreement in Smer that Deputy prime minister for investments Peter Pellegrini will substitute Fico when it comes to diplomatic issues. The internal issues of the party will be on Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák’s shoulders, according to parliament’s vice-chair Martin Glváč who is also from Smer.

The agreement results from the fact that Kaliňák is a stronger and more experienced politician, according to Mesežnikov.

“On the other hand, Smer also reflects who is more compatible with the party’s image and ideas,” Mesežnikov said, as quoted by Sme.

However, when approached by the TASR newswire Kaliňák says that distribution of responsibilities is not so specific.

“Each of us does his or her job and all of us fulfil our tasks,” Kaliňák told the TASR. “See it as ad hoc decisions. There are vice chairs of the government to deal with these issues.”

Replacing Danko

Danko’s responsibilities when presiding over sessions will now be divided among the other three vice-chairs, Glváč, Andrej Hrnčiar of Sieť, Lucia Nicholsonová of Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS) and Béla Bugár of Most-Híd who is also designated as Danko’s fill-in, according to Glváč.

Danko’s absence is not such a big deal, according to Mesežnikov.

Read also: Who is Andrej Danko? Read more 

“On the other hand, he is representing SNS as Smer’s coalition partner,” Mesežnikov told Sme, adding that it probably will not affect unity of the whole government.  

During the interview with TASR Danko wished Fico a speedy recovery and said that he hopes that after the troubles with his stomach he will return back to work quickly.

"Life is the best director of all,” Danko told the TASR. 

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