Prague, June 21 (RFE/RL) - For the first time since November 1994, a three-party governing coalition in Slovakia split a vote on a significant parliamentary issue.
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said yesterday that his government lost the backing in parliament of its two junior coalition partners. But he said that it will continue in office because opposition parties do not want new elections.
Jan Smolec, a deputy in Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), admitted in his own commentary in the pro-government Bratislava newspaper Slovenska Republika, that "a political crisis has once again emerged in Slovakia."
The crisis is sparked by the decision of the two minority partners in the opposition, the ultra-nationalistic Slovak National Party (SNS) and the left-wing Workers' Union of Slovakia (SDS) to side with the opposition in placing on the Parliamentary agenda two items Meciar is opposed to.
Because of the minority party support, Parliament will today deal with a proposal to name opposition members of parliament to a committee which oversees the function of the country's secret service (SIS).
On the agenda is also a proposal from the opposition Democratic Union to replace three HZDS members on the National Property Fund (FNM) board, with representatives of the opposition.
Leaders of SNS and SDS have said they will support the opposition in instituting the changes.
Till, now SIS and FNM have been sacred cows for Meciar, which he refused to deal with or change.
Meciar himself feverishly tried to prevent the items from being placed on the agenda. Once they were, he met with the opposition Democratic Left Party (SDL) in an attempt to gain its support and prevent the changes from being adopted by Parliament.
SDL leader Peter Weiss rejected Meciar's plea, however. He said "SDL cannot and will not cooperate with Prime Minister Meciar's Movement."
In his commentary, Smolec said he wanted to write an article and warn his readers about the impending crisis two days ago, but Meciar did not want his statement, "the government is losing the support of its coalition partners in Parliament," published.
Meciar, himself, was quoted as saying earlier this week, that he returned too late from his sick leave to avert the crisis. While he admitted the situation is "marginally unfavorable," Meciar warned that "those who prepared a coffin for us have forgotten we hold the nails in our hands."
HZDS holds 61 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, while its coalition partners SNS and SDS have nine and 12 seats respectively.
According to government officials, the Prime Minister has been ill, suffering from a respiratory and ear infection.
But speculation has been rampant in the country that the illness is far more serious. Some reports said Meciar was suffering from cancer, while others claimed he had a brain tumor.
The Prime Minister was absent for nearly a month. He attended some meetings this week but continues to keep a light work schedule.