Opposition submits motion to oust Danko over opening of letters

Fico voiced support for Danko.

Andrej Danko, speaker of parliamentAndrej Danko, speaker of parliament (Source: TASR)

The Opposition has tabled a motion to remove the Speaker of Parliament, Andrej Danko (Slovak National Party/SNS) from office, over what it sees as his responsibility for the Parliament Office’s alleged violation of the confidentiality of correspondence.

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OĽaNO-NOVA leader Igor Matovič, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) MP Lucia Duriš Nicholsonová and We Are Family chairman Boris Kollár announced that 33 MPs had signed a motion to call for an extraordinary parliamentary session to debate Danko’s removal.

Matovič said that employees of the Parliament Office have been reading letters sent to MPs without the intended recipients being aware of this and that the correspondence has been censored.

“Andrej Danko has violated the constitutional right of people who send letters to members of Parliament,” said Matovič as cited by the TASR newswire. “We’re submitting a motion seeking his removal. The [parliamentary] session should take place next week [the first week in May].”

Duriš Nicholsonová added that it is not their right which has been infringed but the rights of the people who sent the letters.

“Things have gone so far that the rights of the people who write to us are being trampled on,” said Duriš Nicholsonová.

Kollár echoed the SaS MP’s sentiments, describing the controversial practice as a “prime example of the arrogance of power”.

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However, the opposition’s initiative faces dim prospects, as the leader of the main coalition Smer party and Prime Minister Robert Fico said earlier on April 28, that he sees no reason to debate Danko’s removal from office and that Smer will not vote in favour of such a motion. Unless the House first endorses the agenda of such a session, the session will not even begin.

“Robert Fico is going to cover up for Andrej Danko because they need each other ... We don’t expect them to act in any other way but this amounts to gross contempt for the public,” said Matovič.

Read also: Danko’s office opens MPs’ letters Read more 

Earlier this week Matovič went public with his claim that Danko had ordered Parliament Office chief, Daniel Guspan, to introduce a policy of opening letters addressed to individual MPs if they are sent by private individuals or if they are apparently anonymous. If the letters are found to contain profanities or other offensive content, they should not be forwarded to the recipients but archived and shredded after three months.

Guspan rejected Matovič’s accusations, describing such claims as lies. He also called on Matovič to present evidence for his claims or to desist from making the accusations.

On Sunday, April 30, PM Fico responded to the motion saying that Guspan should be punished if he did fail in his duties concerning the Parliament Office’s alleged violation of the confidentiality of correspondence. That said, contrary to what the opposition is aiming for, no special parliamentary session debating a motion to remove Danko from office should take place, he added.

“We support Speaker of Parliament Danko and the Smer party won’t vote in favour of the [proposed] agenda for the extraordinary parliamentary session,” said Fico. He added that Danko played no role in the controversial issue, as he does not read post sent to MPs.

The PM also believes that the opposition’s initiative to remove Danko is spurred on by hatred - and the coalition refuses to get involved in it. After all, the Government Office, too, observes a security policy as far as incoming post is concerned, he added.

Instead of discussing this issue, focus should be put on the fact that Slovakia is doing well economically, said Fico.

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