Political Analysts See Potential Divide Brewing Within Smer-SD

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Smer-SD head Robert Fico (left) and Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, February 15 (TASR) – Political analysts Aneta Vilagi and Pavol Babos perceive the condemnation by Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) of the failed parliamentary vote on Constitutional Court judges as a responsible gesture but also a hint of an inchoate divide within Smer-SD.

On the other hand, political analyst Daniel Kerekes warns that it might be nothing but a strategic move directed towards the public – a good cop/bad cop game.

“It can be seen as a statesman-like gesture,” thinks Vilagi, who underlines that the Prime Minister’s statements are in accord with his declared intent to restore public trust in the state. “The parliamentary election is drawing near and we also expect the participation of forces that will attempt to undermine trust in the democratic political system. In this context, I view it also as an effort to fight against the disparaging of the system.”

Babos agrees that Pellegrini’s statement might be interpreted as an attempt to appeal to the conscience of Smer-SD lawmakers. “It is not normal to paralyse the Constitutional Court for several months and he as Prime Minister must be aware of that. He’ll likely face inquiries about this during meetings with foreign officials,” he claimed.

However, the political analysts also concur that the situation might bespeak a growing dispute within Smer-SD. “It could be that the Prime Minister has gained greater self-confidence and divined that this is the moment for him to seize greater clout over the governance of the state and maybe even over the party,” thinks Kerekes.

“It might be interpreted as Pellegrini’s attempt to take a stand against (Smer-SD chairman) Robert Fico and make it clear that he won’t just obey the party chairman blindly. The fact that their relationship is not good has been public knowledge for quite some time, it’s just that the Prime Minister generally used to fall silent in the past,” added Babos.

Vilagi’s assessment is more measured, but she’s also aware of a potential difference of opinions within Smer-SD. “I don’t have an inside scoop, but it follows from the vote results that some Smer-SD lawmakers went against the instructions of Robert Fico.”