Slovak right backs Radi?ová to lead cabinet

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Slovakia's centre-right opposition parties agreed yesterday (15 June) to form a cabinet led by Christian Democratic Union (SDKU) leader Iveta Radi?ová after winning a combined majority in a weekend vote.

The agreement highlighted the parties' resolve to squeeze out leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose SMER party won the most votes in the election but has found it impossible to find partners to form a majority (see EURACTIV 14/06/10).

The four parties – the SDKU, the conservative Christian Democrats (KDH), the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and the ethnic Hungarian Most-Hid – are expected to cut the budget deficit and mend now-tense relations with next-door Hungary.

"The SDKU, SaS, KDH and Most-Hid parties, due to similarities of their political programme goals, express a joint will to form a ruling coalition, which will create a new Slovak government," the parties said in a joint declaration.

Radi?ová, 53, is a professor of sociology and was a presidential candidate in the 2009 election, which she lost to incumbent Ivan Gašparovi?.

"We have enough time to draft the programme [of the future government], and we will put in all effort to deliver it as fast as possible," Radi?ová told reporters.

She said the grouping, which has a 79-strong majority in the 150-seat parliament, will now seek a meeting with President Gašparovi? and deliver the declaration.

In line with Slovak political tradition, Gašparovi? asked Fico as the head of the biggest party to lead talks on forming a new cabinet, and gave him until next Wednesday

But the declaration confirmed the outlook that Fico had almost no chance of success.

Fiscal consolidation, Hungary in spotlight

The eurozone member is recovering from its worst crisis after a 4.7% economic contraction last year, but the jobless rate remains close to a five-year high at 12.25% and the fiscal gap at 6.8% of GDP.

Fico's cabinet had pledged to cut the deficit to 5.5% this year. Analysts said a centre-right government was more likely to stick to the goal.

Fiscal consolidation was badly needed, the central bank said on Tuesday, after upgrading its economy growth forecast for this year to 3.7% from 3.2%, but it also pointed to down-side risks to the pace of recovery.

Tuesday's declaration said the new government's priorities will be job creation, fiscal consolidation and debt cutting, anti-corruption steps and improving the status of ethnic minorities in the country of 5.4 million.

Slovakia and Hungary have had rocky relations for centuries. There was hope that both countries' EU entry in 2004 would smooth ties, but they were strained anew by nationalists in Fico's cabinet and by a tough line taken by new Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Inviting the ethnic Hungarian Most-Hid, led by charismatic leader Bela Bugar, who is also popular among Slovaks, into the coalition is widely expected to ease such tensions.

(EURACTIV with Reuters.)

Incumbent Prime Minister Robert Ficohas already announced his readiness to enter into opposition, EURACTIV Slovakia reports.

"We will respect it if the parties decide to form a government with 79 representatives [...] but we will be a tough opposition. For us, this coallition will be like a candy on a plate. It will not last more than a year," he said.

Many worry that the new coalition will not be as stable as declared. Tensions are expected to arise, in particular between the Christian Democrats and the Liberals.

The Christian Democrats have already declared that they want the Vatican's Morality Pact to be a part of the governmental programme. The document, which encourages doctors not to perform abotrions and allows people to refuse to work on Sundays and during church holidays, has already caused one government to collapse (in 2006).

Analysts say that the the Slovak Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK), which obtained 4.33% of the vote and failed the cross the threshold for representation in parliament, paid the price for its nationalistic campaign and rhetoric attacking its main rival, the Hungarian Most-Hid party.  

Most-Hid leader Bela Bugar, who unlike his rival did not get pre-election support from Budapest, said about cooperation with Hungary: "It is necessary to realise that sending messages from behind the borders is not good. If there is a need to make contact with Hungary, we will do all the necessary steps ourselves. But not because someone is pushing us."

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