Slovak health minister survives another no-confidence vote

By bne IntelliNews November 1, 2015

Slovak Health Minister Viliam Cislak survived a no-confidence vote on October 30, after the opposition filed a proposal for his dismissal earlier in the week, local media reports. The result was in line with expectations as the ruling Smer party dominates parliament.

Only 38 of the 112 lawmakers present supported the motion to sack Cislak over corruption allegations, TASR news agency reports. It is the second time this year Cislak has survived a no-confidence vote.

The vote illustrates the opposition's ongoing hopes of pressuring the government on allegations of corruption. However, the myriad of opposition parties has failed to unite so far in a bid to challenge Smer in next year’s general elections.

The opposition claims Cislak failed to reduce corruption and increase transparency in the healthcare system. The move follows a scandal surrounding the former head of state-owned health insurer Vseobecna Zdravotna Poistovna (VsZP), who was accused of concluding contracts worth €14mn with companies in which his 77-year old aunt was involved.

"Minister Cislak doesn't want to address problems in health care and doesn't want to make its processes more transparent," KDH vice-chairman Julius Brocka said.

Brocka claims that even though Cislak dismissed former VSzP head, Marcel Forai, he subsequently replaced him with Miroslav Vadura, an individual who was employed at VSzP during the time when the contracts in question were signed. According to Brocka, Vadura knew about the contracts.

Cislak rejects the accusation that he has not done anything to fight corruption. "We've introduced anti-corruption e-mail boxes. You may claim that it's nothing, but it's important to provide scope for citizens and patients who feel that they've suffered some injustice. Where there's no complainant, there's no judge either. We've also launched the project of open transparent hospital," Cislak said. He added that if he felt the need to resign, he would do it on his own volition.

Corruption in the healthcare system was a hot political issue in Slovakia last year. Health minister Zuzana Zvolenska was forced to resign following a scandal related to a shady tender at a provincial hospital. Parliament speaker Pavol Paska, seen as Smer's second in command, was also forced to resign as a series of protests rocked Bratislava.

However, other issues have come to the fore since, not least the migrant crisis, which has seen Smer rebuilding its support. Recent polls suggest it would currently repeat its 2012 feat of winning a single party majority. 

Cislak survived a no-confidence vote in April. The opposition claimed at that time Cislak was nominated as minister to cover up the scandal which led to Zvolenska’s resignation.

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