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Slovakia: Opposition Unites Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

Bratislava, 16 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Five of Slovakia's opposition parties agreed over the weekend to form a bloc for next year's parliamentary elections. The move comes on the heels of a failure in Parliament Friday, for the second day in a row, to convene an opposition-led special session to try to oust Interior Minister Gustav Krajci, and to discuss direct presidential elections.

Saturday, DU (Democratic Union) Chairman Eduard Kukan announced the opposition alliance, which includes parties of the right and left. He said the DU as well as the Christian Democratic Party (KDH), the Green Party (SZS), the Social Democrat Party (SDSS) and the DS (Democratic Party) will form a pre-election bloc. The five parties have fewer than 50 seats in parliament now.

The parties in Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's governing coalition control 82 seats in the 150-member Parliament.

Parliamentary elections are planned in June 1998, but Slovakia's presidential elections are to be held in March of next year.

Members from the five opposition parties are set to meet June 21 for further talks.

Our Bratislava correspondent reports it is possible that the two ethnic Hungarian parties, with a total of about ten members, may also join the opposition bloc.

Last week's scheduled special session targeted Interior Minister Krajci over his role in last month's referendum on NATO membership and direct presidential election. Krajci defied both Slovakia's Constitutional Court and the official Referendum Committee by excluding the ballot question on direct presidential election.

Voter turnout was insufficient for the referendum to be valid.

Since parliament elects the president, the opposition fears a deadlock next year, allowing Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar to assume executive authority.

Opposition party leaders also say they will this week discuss strategy on the presidential election issue, and on Krajci.

Some have called for a new petition campaign and another referendum. But, they fear Meciar's government might again prevent the question from appearing on the ballot.

A regular parliamentary session is set June 24, and the issues are expected to be brought up again then.