Viewing cable 05BRATISLAVA663

05BRATISLAVA6632005-08-17 17:22:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bratislava
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/17/2015 
     ¶B. BRATISLAVA 626 
Classified By: Ambassador Rodolphe Vallee for reasons 1.4 b and d. 
 ¶1. (C) Summary: The latest threat by coalition partner KDH 
to leave the government if Prime Minister Dzurinda doesn't 
fire Economy Minister Pavol Rusko (ANO) is more serious than 
previous bluffs.  No matter what happens, there is not enough 
support in parliament for early elections (90 votes are 
required) to take place before June 2006.  Therefore, even if 
ANO or KDH were to leave the government, it would probably 
hobble along until then.  Although there are other 
possibilities for reconstituting a majority government, such 
as adding HZDS, they are too unpalatable to present a 
realistic option for Dzurinda right now.  End Summary. 
¶2. (C) On August 16, Pavol Hrusovsky and other leaders of the 
Christian Democrat Party (KDH) presented Prime Minister 
Dzurinda with an ultimatum: either ask President Gasparovic 
to recall Economy Minister Pavol Rusko, or KDH will leave the 
government.  Hrusovsky met with Dzurinda at one o'clock in 
the afternoon to inform him of the KDH position, then 
announced the move at a five o'clock press conference. 
Hrusovsky demanded that Dzurinda make a decision by the time 
of the coalition council meeting scheduled for August 22. 
Dzurinda postponed the council meeting until August 23. 
KDH is Serious 
¶3. (C) All of our KDH interlocutors (and even those outside 
the party) have told us the party was completely serious in 
its threat to leave the government.  KDH and Rusko's New 
Citizens Alliance (ANO) party have clashed continuously over 
the past two years about issues such as abortion, separation 
of church and state, and most recently education reforms. 
Recent revelations that Rusko while in office borrowed 100 
million crowns (over three million dollars) on notes of 
credit from a now-deceased businessman, which Rusko has 
refused to explain, were the final straw.  Hrusovsky 
spokesperson Michal Dyttert told us, "There is no other way 
to react to these financial scandals; there are limits.  Our 
Interior Minister (Vladimir Palko) is an honorable man; our 
Justice Minister (Daniel Lipsic) has made fighting corruption 
his priority in office; they cannot continue to sit at the 
same table as Rusko." 
¶4. (C) KDH leaders tell us there will be a full-court press 
against Rusko now; they believe TV Markiza's (partially-owned 
by Rusko--ref A) license will not be renewed next spring due 
to financing issues and management problems, thereby taking 
away Rusko's prime propoganda medium.  KDH officials 
speculated that at least two ANO MP's would abandon Rusko if 
push came to shove, in which case the coalition would lose 
not 11 but nine MPs. 
SDKU: Hopes Dzurinda can hold it together 
¶5. (C) Despite this, insiders from Dzurinda's Slovak 
Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) were not panicking. 
SDKU secretary Kamil Homola told us that it was "the same old 
song" from KDH.  It would be very simple for Dzurinda to fire 
Rusko, but that would only be the first step.  The KDH was 
not taking responsibility for what would follow.  Dzurinda 
told the former Charge that he needed Rusko at least through 
December to pass next year's budget (ref B).  The coalition 
already relies on independent MPs to pass legislation; it 
can't afford to lose either KDH or ANO.  Homola lamented that 
Dzurinda is always stuck resolving disputes between the 
coalition partners, but expressed full confidence that he 
would be able to do it again this time. 
¶6. (C) That said, other SDKU members consider the situation 
"very serious" and suggested that Rusko would not survive the 
huge pressure from KDH.  They note that Rusko is a fighter 
and would prefer to bring the whole government down rather 
than leave gracefully.  Dzurinda is using delaying tactics 
and hoping people will calm down while he weighs his options. 
 Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, also a vice-chair of SDKU, 
down-played the sense of crisis and told the press that the 
government was not about to fall.  Other SDKU members believe 
that the "crisis" was being overdramatized by both 
politicians and the media; KDH would not give up its powerful 
SMK: Sides with KDH on Principal, but is not Suicidal 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
¶7. (C) The Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) is not 
interpreting the KDH ultimatum so dramatically.  SMK leader 
Bela Bugar agrees with Hrusovsky that Rusko must explain the 
loans.  However, SMK will not walk out of the GOS in 
solidarity.  The party would have to give up too much power 
and positions at all levels. 
ANO: United Behind Rusko 
¶8. (C) ANO, meanwhile, stands firmly behind Rusko, and ANO's 
main priority is to keep it that way.  ANO's secretary 
general noted that Dzurinda is going to lose no matter what 
decision he makes.  If ANO leaves, it will use all means 
available to attack the government and especially KDH. 
¶9. (C) Dzurinda still could find a solution that will allow 
KDH to save face and to back down.  For example, Rusko could 
give an "explanation" of his loans that would be acceptable 
to KDH and SMK. As one keen analyst noted, Dzurinda is a 
"world champion in settling disputes among political 
players," though he admitted that this time it could be very 
¶10. (C) If either ANO or KDH were to leave, the government 
would still hobble along for several more months, although 
passing a budget for the next year would be very difficult. 
It requires 90 votes in parliament to call for early 
elections, and none of the parties currently in the coalition 
would support such a move, even if they left the government. 
Thus, the earliest that early elections would likely be held 
is June 2006, rather than September 2006. 
¶11. (C) Rumors are rampant of a "deal" between SDKU and 
Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) 
to cooperate after the next parliamentary elections.  Dyttert 
speculated that Dzurinda could "substitute" HZDS now for KDH. 
 However, this would hurt both Dzurinda and Meciar in next 
year's elections.  SDKU voters hate Meciar; HZDS voters hate 
Dzurinda.  Any possible deal would have to be kept under 
wraps until the votes were in. 
¶12. (C) Comment: Despite numerous scandals and internal 
conflicts during the past two and a half years, the Dzurinda 
government has remained stable.  Jutice Minister Lipsic 
(KDH) has assured the press that there is no threat of early 
elections (before June 2006).  This leads us to believe that 
even if KDH were to leave the government to remind its own 
voters that it still has scruples, Dzurinda would remain at 
the helm and policies would remain largely unchanged.