Coalition under strain; PM may step down
The shaken government coalition gathered at the headquarters of Most-Hid this morning in the hope of being able to resolve the lack of unity within, which has seen them fail to vote in their attorney general candidate for the third time already, this time for Jozef Centes.
The issue could have massive consequences for the fragile coalition, because apart from demonstrating just how vulnerable its slight majority in parliament is, Prime Minister Iveta Radicova says she would stick to her vow to stand down if current attorney general, Dobroslav Trnka, is voted in for another seven year term. This may be a bit severe, but Radicova feels that if the government is not capable of uniting to change the judiciary, it is not a government she would want to lead. The meeting today takes place on her birthday, but there might be no celebration if she has to prepare her demission.
As representatives of the four coalition parties arrived at today’s Coalition Council meeting, the concern was visible on their faces. Foreign affairs minister Mikulas Dzurinda, who has come under fire for the initial lack of agreement over a common AG candidate, took most time to speak to journalists as he wanted to make it totally clear that he and his SDKU party were not responsible for the failed vote on Friday, which saw as many as 6 coalition MPs defect and vote for opposition-backed Trnka.
Dzurinda asserted that there were no power struggles going on in the SDKU, as suggested by some coalition partners, and that everyone in the party stands behind the PM. Regarding the attorney general vote, he wants the coalition to amend the parliamentary rules so that the vote at 11.30 tomorrow 7 December would be public. He volunteered to prepare the amendment himself.
As she arrived PM Radicova responded only to the question of who she thought the 6 MPs were that voted against the government’s will, saying simply that she was not Sherlock Holmes. She understandably looked worried and stressed.
Speak of parliament and head of the SaS party, Richard Sulik, also made it clear that he and his party stood fully behind the PM. He rejected claims that the action of the 6 traitors, whoever they are, could lead to the downfall of the government.
Head of the KDH party, Jan Figel, believes he has an innovative solution to the situation, saying “I come to the meeting with a proposal that is innovative and goes far enough to ensure we get a good result”.
The coalition partners will not delve too deep to find out which 6 MPs are responsible for invoking the current situation, and from which party, but most of the coalition representatives feel that they will be uncovered. Sulik said he had his suspicions and believed that the cat would soon be out of the bag. Why they acted as they did is probably the biggest question, with speculations that opposition leader Robert Fico has leverage over certain coalition MPs due to dealings in the past. Some fingers are being pointed to the likes of former mayor of Bratislava, Andrej Durkovsky (KDH), for instance.
Tomorrow’s voting on the Attorney General will be crucial not just to the future of the government, but also of the country as it could lead to a shift of power. Even if the government is successful in pushing through its candidate tomorrow, there is little chance of the champagne being opened, because this affair has left a dark stain on relations within the coalition and has shown once again how difficult it will be for the government to push through its objectives and stay the course for the four year term.