Only 36 MPs out of the 116 present in parliament voted for the PM’s dismissal on September 23. At least 76 votes were needed to remove Fico from his post. All the coalition MPs present supported him, while all opposition MPs in the chamber voted to out him. The entire caucus of the far-right Kotleba-People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) was absent from parliament.
The prime minister’s behaviour in relation to the Bašternák case is shameful and it has put Slovakia in a bad light, especially during its current presidency of the EU Council, according to the opposition.
“Robert Fico is, with his behaviour, not only supporting criminal activities of his fellow government members, he’s also intentionally encouraging a corrupt environment, thereby excusing such behaviour at lower levels of state administration as well,” stated the opposition, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
Opposition MPs also chided Fico for living in an apartment owned by Bašternák. They said that Fico’s monthly rent is as much as €4,450 lower than it ought to be, which means that he has saved €196,000 in the 44 months that he has been living there. They called this discount a bribe.
Fico responded to the attempt to oust him by saying that it was pointless, unsubstantiated and organised by untrustworthy people who aim to create permanent political immunity for themselves.
Fico said that he is proud that the coalition is made up of three parties [Smer, the Slovak National Party-SNS, and Most-Híd] that respect the democratic rules of the game, and called on the coalition not to get involved in this “mess organised by the opposition”.
Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, too, survived the opposition motion for his dismissal, as only 40 MPs out of the 120 present in parliament voted for it. This was already the second unsuccessful attempt by the opposition to oust the interior minister – the first took place on June 7. At least 76 votes were needed in order to remove Kaliňák from his post. All the opposition MPs present voted to remove him, while almost all coalition MPs in the chamber were against. Only Štefan Zelník (Slovak National Party-SNS) abstained from the vote.
The opposition is reproaching Kaliňák for having had a direct business relation with the entrepreneur Ladislav Bašternák. They claim that the interior minister bought a stake in the company connected with Bašternák for an unreasonably low price. They also pointed out that minister bought the stake from Bašternák at a time when the latter was being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NAKA) over major tax frauds, and that Kaliňák was informed of that fact.
Not meeting with Bašternák?
"The extraordinary parliamentary session aimed at dismissing me was based on fables and lies," Kaliňák said, as cited by TASR.
He stated that he has not seen Bašternák for four years and denied information from the Denník N daily claiming that the two have been meeting regularly at a nursery school attended by their children. “When saying that I haven’t seen him for four years, then I haven't seen him for four years,” reiterated Kaliňák.
"All accusations have been fabricated, which I have said since the very beginning," said Kaliňák, according to the Sme daily. “Not even the indications which have been the subject of the no-confidence motions have been confirmed,” he added.
Robert Fico said back in June said that the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion in Kaliňák is viewed by the government as an attempt to give Slovakia a bad name during its presidency of the EU Council.
Though people protested against Kaliňák during the summer in front of the Bonaparte residential complex which belongs to a company tied with Bašternák and in which PM Fico lives, the coalition MPs showed their support to both of them.
Opposition MP Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová (SaS) attributed their support to the arrogance of the ruling power, Sme wrote.
26. Sep 2016 at 13:25 | Compiled by Spectator staff