Slovak minister resigns, PM fights to save government

From CBC - March 12, 2018

Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak said on Monday he would resign, bowing to the demands of a junior coalition partner, as Prime Minister Robert Fico fights to save his government after mass protests following a journalist's murder.

Fico is seeking to keep his three-party coalition together after the murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak shook the nation, stoked public anger over corruption and saw the biggest street protests in decades on Friday.

Organizers plan another protest this Friday.

The junior government party Most-Hid (Slovak for "bridge"), a centrist group representing the ethnic Hungarian minority in Slovakia, had demanded the prime minister dismiss Kalinak, Fico's protege and a founding member of their Smer party.

Critics say Kalinak, who oversaw the police as interior minister, could not guarantee an independent investigation into the killing of Kuciak and his fiance, Martina Kusnirova, in late February.

Most-Hid's leadership was meeting on Monday to decide its next move.

The party welcomed Kalinak's resignation although its leader, Bela Bugar, declined to comment when asked whether it would be enough to remain in the coalition.

"The national council always decidesIn such cases it has the final word," Bugar told reporters.

Failure to keep Most-Hid's support could spell the end of Fico's government. The leader of the third coalition member, the Slovak National Party (SNS), said his party would want an early election if the coalition loses its parliamentary majority.

Fico's coalition holds 78 of the 150 seats in parliament. If the coalition holds, it will face a no-confidence vote after opposition parties filed a motion on Monday. They need 76 votes to topple the government. No date has yet been set for the vote.

Fico's Smer party has been ahead in opinion polls, with 25.5 per cent support in Focus agency's January survey, almost double the opposition SaS party in second place.

Most-Hid is polling at 5.7 per cent, the lowest among the eight parties that would win seats, according to Focus's poll.

Kuciakreported on corruption


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