The long and much debated issue of MP immunity in Slovakia, which to date has protected MPs and other public officials from criminal prosecution, is taking centre stage again as the newly elected PM in waiting Robert Fico and his Smer-SD party have done a U-turn on their opposition to the idea, but why the sudden change of heart?
Some right-wing parties have been trying to get MP immunity scrapped for almost a decade, but always came up against a stumbling block like Smer-SD as the backing of 90 of the 150 MPs is needed to push through such a constitutional change. Yet Robert Fico’s party now looks set to scrap the privileged immunity with overwhelming support in parliament, as all the opposition parties regard it as a priority.
At present the police have to request the approval of a parliamentary majority to waive MPs of their immunity in criminal investigations, but this should change mid-year once the government is settled in and the draft legislation drawn up. In February parliament unanimously approved the cancellation at least of immunity for misdemeanours in a symbolic pre-election gesture.
Outgoing interior minister Daniel Lipsic from KDH pointed out that it has been a priority for his party since 2003, adding how he at least appreciated how Smer-SD had changed its mind after nine years. Fico’s proposal would most likely still require the police to get parliamentary approval to apprehend or imprison an MP, though.