Meciar Forms Nationalist Coalition
Facing Defections in his own Party, PM Woos SNS to Save Government
United Press International, October 20, 1993
Slovakia's ruling party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), signed a coalition agreement with the parliament's third biggest group late Tuesday to recover its parliamentary majority.
Both parties agreed not to disclose details of the pact until Saturday when senior members of HZDS and the Slovak Nationalist Party (SNS) are expected to approve the agreement, which comes after months of faltering negotiations.
The deal will combine HZDS's 66 parliamentary seats with the 14 held by the SNS. However, both parties are expected to bring another two deputies into the coalition giving them an 82-strong block in the 150- seat legislature. The agreement was signed by Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, who is also the HZDS chairman, and Ludovit Cernak, the nationalists' leader and the economy minister until his resignation in March.
"I stressed repeatedly that I'm willing only to sign such an agreement that will provide for a partnership relationship," Cernak said after the pact was signed.
Meciar's party, which masterminded Slovak independence on Jan. 1, has lost momentum after former foreign minister Milan Knazko and six deputies left the party in March.
Since then, the privatization minister and others have left the cabinet, giving the impression of a government totally at sea.
There has been speculation that the defense, economy and foreign ministries will be given to SNS, but neither party has confirmed this.
Meciar has so far said only that the education ministry, which presently has no minister, will be given to SNS.
Meanwhile the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), the renamed communists who are the second biggest party in parliament, continued to call for early elections -- presently scheduled for 1996 -- as the only solution to Slovakia's political impasse.
Parliament must approve an amendment to the election law with a three-fifths majority in order to bring forward the elections. A petition with at least 250,000 signatures is also sufficient to force an early poll.
The coalition agreement comes as the HZDS has tumbled to an all-time low in the popularity stakes.
According to 1,188 respondents polled by the Bratislava Journalism Studies Institute in September, HZDS came second with an approval rating of 10.2 percent, behind SDL on 10.8 percent.
Almost 20 percent of those polled said they would not vote at all.