Smer hopeful of building shaky Slovak coalition

By bne IntelliNews March 15, 2016

Slovakia’s political deadlock looks to be nearing its end, as Prime Minister Robert Fico - given until March 18 to form a new government - agreed on a draft of priorities following long negotiations with three parties on March 14.

Fico’s Smer party took most votes in the March 5 elections, but failed to get enough to run a second government on its own. At 28.3%, the party will control just 49 of the 150 seats in parliament.

However, Fico now appears close to agreeing a coalition with three parties, no small achievement given their broad range of politics and bitter relations with Smer in the past. How stable any administration would prove is another matter.

The far-right Slovak National Party (SNS), Most-Hid - which represents the interests of Slovak Hungarians - and centre-right anti-corruption party Siet - once considered Smer’s prime challenger - sat down to negotiations with Fico. The PM claimed the quartet found no fundamental disagreements that would stand in the way of forming a coalition.

"The result of today's long and difficult negotiations is a draft of program priorities ... that would serve as basis for cooperation of the four parties in forming a government," Fico said according to Reuters. "We focused on program overlaps because there are four parties with different views and values. Despite long and difficult negotiations we did not find issues or questions that divide us," the PM claimed.

The three parties in talks with Smer will hold 36 seats altogether in the new parliament. However, three MPs from Siet announced they will leave the party if it inks a coalition agreement with Smer, which would leave a coalition with 82 seats.

"In our view, the ongoing coalition talks on the formation of government headed by Smer represent not only a violation of our election commitments and promises on the part of our top leaders, but it's also extremely bad news for Slovakia," MP Miroslvan Beblavy said, according to TASR.

The three deputies believe, instead, that the forming of a centre-right government without Smer is still possible. The centre-right - though nationalist and eurosceptic - Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS), came second in the vote, and has announced it has unofficially started negotiations over an alternative coalition with five of the other parties that made it to the parliament. However, SNS’s refusal to participate drove Most-Hid and Siet to launch talks with Smer.

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