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Slovakia: Government Becomes Minority As Deputies Defect

Bratislava, 8 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Slovakia's troubled ruling coalition became a minority government today when seven deputies from Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's (pictured) Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) quit to form a breakaway group. Former Defense Minister Ivan Simko, the breakaway group's leader, said the aim was to increase pressure on Dzurinda to open his decision-making process to more debate. He said they do not want the fall of the government, but demand stronger democratic controls over the concentration of power.

Government parties now control only 68 of 150 seats in parliament.

Dzurinda's center-right, four-party government has suffered internal disputes since coming to power in September 2002, and is struggling to push through an ambitious reform package just months ahead of EU and NATO entry.