News digest: Court stops the referendum on early election, but some politicians criticise the president

Referendum on snap election not in compliance with the Constitution. Small border crossings will reopen, following some protests. The trial of an ex-special prosecutor began.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Check out the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Wednesday, July 7, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.

Referendum on snap election not in compliance with the Constitution

No referendum on a snap election will be held for now.

The Constitutional Court decided on July 7 that such a plebiscite would be unconstitutional, which triggered some very critical comments from both the opposition, which initiated a petition to hold the referendum on shortening the election term of the current parliament, and the coalition.

The parties’ representatives slammed not only the court but also President Zuzana Čaputová, who turned to the Constitutional Court in mid-May since there were some questions concerning the referendum on a snap election.

She responded that the decision has brought light to the discussion. She invited politicians to amend the Constitution in a way that will make it possible for the referendum on a snap election to take place in the future. At the same time, she stressed that it is her right as a president to turn to the Constitutional Court if there are questions concerning the referendum.

“I think it’s absurd for me to apologise for observing the Constitution,” she noted.

Smaller border crossings open after protests

Dozens of smaller and infrequently used border crossings were closed at the beginning of this week as part of a new traffic light system for border checks. However, the decision was opposed by several municipalities and the representatives of companies situated in the border regions, and even some retailers who complained about delayed deliveries of supplies.

People complained that after a border crossing near them was closed, they had to travel quite far to another open border crossing. Some protestors tried to remove the barriers erected by the police.

This should change in the coming days. The cabinet approved the reinforcement of border patrols, which will make it possible to gradually reopen the smaller crossings, said Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO) after the July 7 cabinet session. The checks on these crossings are expected to be random.

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More Covid and vaccination developments

  • 45 out of 5,637 PCR tests carried out on July 7 were positive, and nine out of 8,837 antigen tests were positive. Two more people died of Covid.
  • The epidemiological situation in Slovakia has improved and most districts are in the green tier with very mild restrictions. Only three districts – Humenné, Ružomberok and Turčianske Teplice – will remain in the yellow tier from next Monday, July 12.
  • The combination of two different Covid vaccines could be introduced in the coming days, said Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee). This will be possible after they figure out the best way to state in a certificate that a person has been administered two various vaccine doses.
  • It is possible that all vaccination centres will soon start vaccinating people who have not received an official invitation yet. Some centres are already using the so-called walk-in vaccination, including those in Bratislava, Žilina Region and Banská Bystrica Region.
  • A testing site providing gargling LAMP tests should be open at the Bratislava airport in the coming days, and some may be established on the borders.
  • The opposition party Smer challenged an ordinance introducing new border rules at the Constitutional Court. It deems it unconstitutional and claims that it is discriminatory, restricts freedom and movement, and, in the case of cross-border commuters, it restricts their right to work.

Picture of the day

The Trenčín airport is hosting a modified version of the traditional summer festival Pohoda, called Pohoda on the Ground. The festival was open today at 11:00 and will last until July 11. Find more about the event here.

Feature story for today

The plan to replace the birth number, rodné číslo in Slovak, with a random 10-digit code, has been postponed for now. The current government plans to change the plan presented by ex-interior minister Denisa Saková. IT experts have welcomed the decision, saying the previous system was too complicated.

Rodné číslo will be kept for now. The coalition moves to change the former govt’s plan Read more 

In other news

  • Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) was “profoundly shocked” by the attack on Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries, known for investigating the criminal underworld. De Vries was shot and seriously wounded on a street in Amsterdam. “I strongly condemn any assault on free journalism, one of the cornerstones of democracy,” he wrote on Twitter.
  • The trial of ex-special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik, who faces charges of corruption and establishing an organised crime group, started on July 7. It is the very first court proceeding where the testimony of Ľudovít Makó, the former head of the Criminal Office of the Financial Administration who also faces several charges but is collaborating with the police, will be used, the Sme daily reported.
  • Tax and payroll tax revenues are improving, and there is space to decrease the deficit quicker, according to the Council of Budget Responsibility. In its latest prognosis, it expects the deficit to decrease from 7.2 percent of GDP in 2021 to 3.9 percent of GDP in 2022, while the yield from public administration incomes should increase by €0.8 billion to €30.299 billion in 2021, and by €0.5 billion to €32.045 billion one year later.
  • The profits of companies in Slovakia dropped by 19.4 percent year-on-year on average last year due to the pandemic, according to a recent analysis of the FinStat company, created based on financial statements of nearly 230,000 companies. The number of companies with a loss of profits and companies with zero profit dropped significantly compared with 2019.
  • A driver set his car on fire on the border crossing in Vyšné Nemecké in eastern Slovakia and fled. Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire, and there were no injuries. The driver has already been caught.

More on today

Where to swim and cool off in Slovakia this summer Read more 

Ex-chair of tax authority said an investigation involving ex-president Kiska was discussed at a meeting with Fico Read more 

Amazon acts like a Mafia boss in a film Read more 

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