Smer changes statutes at congress

Fico lambasted the media, opposition, civic activists and President Andrej Kiska in his speech.

Smer chairman Robert Fico speaking at the party's congress. (Source: Sme)

The Smer party is dynamic, evident from the fact that it has managed to overcome many crises and come back on the scene, former prime minister and party chairman, Robert Fico, said at the party’s working congress in Častá-Papiernička, close to Modra, on April 26.

After the fall of preferences from 26 to 20 percent and the distrust of a large portion of people who gathered several times at protest rallies across Slovakia, Fico did not admit any significant mistakes on the side of Smer, the senior ruling coalition party. Similarly, after the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his partner, Martina Kušnírová, he lambasted the media, opposition, civic activists and President Andrej Kiska.

“I reject a situation with three activists attempting to dictate nominations for interior minister to the strongest party,” said Fico, as cited by the TASR newswire, further slamming Kiska for what he viewed as the latter’s undue interference with the creation of Pellegrini’s government.

In March, Kiska refused to appoint Pellegrini’s first nomination for interior minister, Jozef Ráž Jr. He later accepted the nomination of Tomas Drucker, a hitherto health minister, who stepped down as interior minister one month later and was recently replaced by former minister Robert Kaliňák's associate, Denisa Saková. Kaliňák resigned along with Fico during the government crisis following mass rallies in March.

“We aren’t going away,” said Fico. “We’ll mobilise and we won’t be intimidated. We’ll fight for pushing our social views through. We won’t allow any amateurs with their naive economic notions to endanger the social standing of the public. We’re ready with our social policies to fight again for life and decent prospects for Slovak people.”

Narrowed presidium

Smer changed its statutes at its working congress to narrow its presidium to 15 members. Originally, it had 35 members.

The presidium members are as follows: party chairman (and former three-time prime minister) Robert Fico, vice-chairs Robert Kaliňák (former interior minister), MP Juraj Blanár, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, Finance Minister Peter Kažimír, Economy Minister Peter Žiga, Deputy Prime Minister for Informatisation and Investment, Richard Raši, and Party General Manager Viktor Stromček.

New members elected on Thursday are Trenčín regional governor Jaroslav Baška, Parliamentary Vice-chairman Martin Glváč, MP Ladislav Kamenický, MP Ľubomír Petrák, Interior Minister Denisa Saková, Defence Ministry State Secretary Marián Saloň and MP Miroslav Číž.

Political scientist Grigorij Mesežnikov sees the narrowing of Smer’s presidium as “oligarchisation”.

“A smaller number of people will decide how narrow the space for other opinions will be,” he said, as cited by the Sme daily.

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