Signs of friction for ‘four-leaf’ coalition

Following his meeting on Wednesday 16 June with Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič, party leader of Most-Hid, Bela Bugar, said that representatives of the four-party coalition that looks set to form the new Slovak government (SDKU-DS, SaS, KDH and Most-Hid) had agreed to discuss issues and policies only after they themselves had reached an agreement, and not before.

Bugar mentioned that breaching this agreement could cause problems and that he would personally not discuss issues until after the four parties’ representatives had met next week.

He was reacting to the comments made by KDH chairman, Jan Figel, who after his talk with the President a little earlier had mentioned how he was confident that the Concordat with the Holy See (which refers to state funding and the right of conscientious objection) would form part of the government manifesto, and that it was something that had been neglected for long enough. He also pointed out that lessons had been learned in the past, possibly referring to the break-up of the second Dzurinda government over the wording of the Concordat, which extends, for instance, to doctors refusing to carry our abortions or assisting in artificial fertilisation.

In Bugar’s words, “Mr. Figel should be given some glue and then ….. he wouldn’t say such things”. In response to the question from the media on whether he thought this issue could threaten the cohesion of the coalition, Bugar said that if for some reason the parties were not capable of agreeing, “the voters would be entitled to give us a good kick up the rear”.

The issue of state funding for the Church could also cause friction with SaS, which is against public money being used for this purpose. KDH and SaS will also have to come to agreements on other issues, like equal rights for homosexuals and the decriminalisation of marijuana.

The ‘departing’ parties of Smer and SNS are well aware of these issues and are putting pressure on the Christian democrats, clinging to the hope that KDH might change coats at the last minute. The KDH is well aware of the ‘leverage’ it has over its new partners, and is trying to use it, as ruling party Smer (at least until Wednesday) would jump at the chance to form a 2-party coalition with them, if given the chance.

The ‘four-leaf clover’ coalition has its work cut out for it in the coming days if it wants to retain its lucky charm.

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