Coalition Survives Attorney General Vote Again

The vote to fill the post of Attorney General led yet again to nobody being elected, which worked in favour of the four-party coalition and the PM as they tactically voted to prevent the only candidate, former AG Dobroslav Trnka, from re-occupying the post.

The sticky coalition sticks together

The vote yesterday was done by blind ballot, as ordered by the Constitutional court, but the coalition utilised the various options available to them to ensure that Trnka did not receive more than 50% of the votes of MPs in attendance. On a rare occasion, the house was fill with all 150 MPs showing up for the crucial ‘three-line whip’ vote.

Prime minister Iveta Radicova was on the chopping block, as she has always openly declared that she would resign if Dobroslav Trnka were voted back into the AG post, a bold statement that could still lead to the downfall of her government.

The official results of the vote came yesterday evening, with the opposition hoping to see Trnka re-elected, but it was not to be. Trnka’s nomination got the support of 70 MPs, almost the whole opposition, but 76 were required in the full house.

The four party caucuses voted in a way that they could prevent Trnka from re-occupying the AG throne. There were 17 votes against, 29 abstentions and 34 invalidly cast votes, which together made a simple majority to make the vote void.

Smer-SD opposition party leader Robert Fico was obviously not happy with the outcome, even though he knew all along that the coalition had some ‘system’ to hold the vote while being able to check the various caucuses. He maybe didn’t see this one coming, though, and immediately criticised again how the vote had been steered by party leaders.

As his term came to an end in February, Trnka not only expressed his conviction that he “would be back”, but he lashed out sharply against PM Iveta Radicova and the whole coalition. He has always had the full support of Robert Fico’s Smer-SD party, and so such a mix poses the question as to whether Trnka should be allowed at all to stand for the post again, given the power that the post has and the impartiality required.

Independent MP Igor Matovic is probably right in demanding that the AG post should be filled by some independent body instead of politically nominated candidates. The coalition candidate Jozef Centes backed out of the race on Friday, with his reasoning also come under question.

On the agenda before the AG vote was the draft bill that would change the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure and so make any future vote on the Attorney General a public one, thereby ensuring that it would have a full view of future voting.

A full sweep of 79 votes saw the coalition push through the bill, thereby overriding the veto of President Ivan Gasparovic, who was also in favour of the vote being kept secret.

So Prime Minister Iveta Radicova can sigh relief and relax for a while, but the vote could once more be contested by Trnka at the Constitutional Court, something that Robert Fico said “he expected Trnka to do”. Fico’s Smer-SD party looks set also to try to oust Radicova from the PM post by calling for a vote of no confidence.

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