The coalition could be rocked to its core if the partners roll over on the planned vote on the Attorney General (AG) tomorrow 17 May.
Prime Minister Iveta Radicova could find herself overthrown in a tactical vote, because if former AG Dobroslav Trnaka is voted back in, she has declared several times that she would stand down as PM. This is now a strong possibility as Trnka is the only candidate in the race after coalition nominee Jozef Centes retracted his candidature.
Radicova’s demise could be engineered by those within her own ranks, as her coalition and party colleagues find it increasingly difficult to make agreements with her, as she stands firm to certain righteous principles that politicians, and those that stand behind them, often find it hard to accept.
This is the opinion also of political analyst Rastislav Toth, who told TASR newswire yesterday that Radicova is essentially an obstacle that the coalition has to get over. Toth believes that certain people in the PM’s SDKU party, especially party head Mikulas Dzurinda, could easily oust her from power, as this possibility has been offered to them on a plate. Recent conflicts with finance minister Ivan Miklos could now also come into play.
Anyone agreeing with Robert Fico’s opposition party Smer-SD, for instance, would be able to vote former Attorney General Dobroslav Trnka back in, by which Radicova would stick to her promise to stand down as PM. This almost happened in a previous secret ballot, where Trnka lacked just one vote, thanks to 6 ‘traitors’ within the coalition and also a stroke of fate, as one opposition MP missed the vote while caught in a traffic jam.
Another analyst, Grigorij Meseznikov, holds a different opinion. He believes the coalition will stick together and block the vote in some way as it did before, even though the Constitutional Court ruled that the last time they did this it was unconstitutional. Hence the new secret vote.
Meseznikov told TASR that even though Radicova’s decisions have often come up against strong criticism, the coalition cannot regard her as an obstacle. If Radicova were to stand down as PM, the government would likely collapse and the coalition scatter to the four winds. At the end of the day, the future of the government coalition rests, once again, in the outcome of tomorrow’s secret vote.
After the last fiasco when a secret vote saw six coalition MPs vote in favour of the opposition candidate Trnka, the government has been pushing through legislation to change the vote from a secret ballot to a public one, meaning the snakes in the grass would have nowhere to hide. However, the Constitutional Court ordered a secret vote to take place again.
We will never know of all the power machinations that go on in the background, but there are shouts of bribery with large sums involved. This is very much believable in Slovakia, because corruption is still rife and the issue of who occupies the Attorney General throne is of strategic importance for certain interested parties.
Even the reasons why Jozef Centes withdrew his candidacy could be questioned, as he initially said it was because he would not take part in a blind ballot. Has Centes been influenced, bribed or blackmailed? These are obvious questions, which is why he decided to issue a statement in which he declared that he had taken the decision alone and without any duress from outside. We should not forget here that Centes also works at the Attorney General’s office, where his rival Trnka has held power for over seven years.
Centes has been accused by Smer-SD’s Robert Fico of being Radicova’s puppet, however, with Fico claiming that he withdrew at the order of PM Radicova. Fico finds it dubious that on Thursday Centes said he would stay in the race, but then on Friday he withdrew. Fico thinks it is designed to obstruct tomorrow’s vote.
Some might say that PM Radicova has had enough, and that she herself would welcome, or even seek, an excuse to resign. She could hardly be blamed, as sometimes handling the awkward four-party coalition is like dealing with a class of unruly squabbling nursery-school children.
The opposition is ready to pounce, but the whole political spectrum in Slovakia is in array, as the nationalist party SNS of Jan Slota found it humiliating being previously in power alongside Smer-SD, and it rules out any form of coalition with the ‘perverted’ liberal SaS or ‘those ethnic Hungarians’ of Most-Hid.
Without doubt, former PM Robert Fico is in the best position, as his Smer-SD party enjoys most votes in parliament and so could slither into power by agreeing with any of the coalition parties. We can only guess that few politicians will sleep well tonight, as they all dream or have nightmares of what developments tomorrow’s vote will bring.