Leaders of the ruling coalition parties Smer, Most-Híd and the Slovak National Party (SNS), Robert Fico, Béla Bugár and Andrej Danko, respectively, will meet at a Coalition Council session this Friday, August 25. Danko proposed this date. Smer and Most-Híd agreed.
“The Smer party agrees with the date as well as the Coalition Council session’s format. It expects that the issue of withdrawal from the coalition agreement on the part of the SNS will be addressed first and foremost,” said Ľubica Končalová, spokesperson of Smer as cited by the TASR newswire, adding that the party is ready to submit its own demands with regards to the coalition agreement at the session. The SNS has already unveiled part of its requirements.
Smer’s requirements are linked with the state budget for 2018 and include a radical increase of the minimum wage or greater care support for dependent people.
The SNS demands include the incorporation of their priorities into the coalition agreement. For example, a draft bill on assessing impacts on family and marriage, which would enact the creation of a so-called family clause in the legislative process.
“We will also propose to our coalition partners a plan to set up a governmental council for family and demographic growth,” said the head of the SNS parliamentary caucus Tibor Bernaťák as cited by the SITA newswire.
The SNS plans to come to the Coalition Council session with a number of demands that it has so far been unable to push through because of the resistance of several ministers for the ruling coalition leader Smer. These allegedly include the introduction of the 13th wage exempt from income and payroll taxes, holiday vouchers or the increase of the minimum wage in the state administration. All these initiatives of the SNS face the resistance of Finance Minister Peter Kažimír (Smer).
The SNS also wants support for the spa business.
Most-Híd does not want to comment the current situation via the media and wants to solve it at the Coalition Council session, according to Klára Debnár, spokesperson of Most-Híd.
The SNS leadership will discuss the situation in the governing coalition on Thursday, August 24. The meeting is to be attended by SNS ministers and MPs.
Cabinet session in question
The cabinet is scheduled to meet at its regular session on Wednesday, August 23 but Danko has called on the remaining two parties not to hold the session and wait until after the Coalition Council session.
Smer has already announced that its ministers will attend the session. Environment Minister László Sólymos (Most-Híd) said that they would discuss the attendance of ministers for Most-Híd within the party.
Coalition in crisis
The coalition has been in crisis for over two weeks now. Following a scandal involving the distribution of EU funds by the Education Ministry, Danko withdrew from the coalition agreement as of September 1. The coalition leaders concurred that there was no alternative to the current government and that they wanted to carry on, but then the SNS announced its requirements, publishing them in the media before announcing them to its partners. The leaders have held no other formal meetings, even though they initially claimed that they would do so.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Peter Plavčan (an SNS nominee) announced last week that he would resign from his post over the EU funds scandal after Prime Minister Fico called on him to do so. Danko then took four days off to ponder the future of the governing coalition and also whether he considers it worth remaining in politics at all. The minister announced on Thursday, August 17, that he is stepping down, but he did not say when exactly he will to do so. Based on the information of the SITA newswire, he will resign as of August 30. The SNS has neither announced this nor the name of his successor.