Pellegrini Takes Ten Smer-SD MPs with Him on Way out of Party

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Peter Pellegrini presenting ten Smer-SD MPs who're leaving the party with him (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, June 17 (TASR) – A total of ten Smer-SD MPs are set to leave the opposition Smer-SD party along with former premier Peter Pellegrini, including party vice-chairs Richard Rasi and Peter Ziga, member of the party presidium Denisa Sakova and MPs Lubica Lassakova, Jan Ferencak, Matus Sutaj Estok, Peter Kmec, Erik Tomas, Robert Puci and Jan Blchac, TASR learnt on Wednesday.

The ten MPs announced their move at a joint press conference held on Wednesday, with Pellegrini adding that he believes that their numbers will grow and that they’ll manage to set up a new party by September.

“We want to be the voice of social democracy in Slovakia,” stated Pellegrini, explaining that the new project is designed to protect vulnerable social groups, carry a strong humanitarian legacy and honour the anti-fascist tradition.

According to Pellegrini, the party should represent a mixture of professionalism, experience, commitment and energy. He noted that the processes concerning the registration of the new party will begin soon. Pellegrini wants his new party to be financed openly and transparently “without any surreptitious oligarchs backstage”. The ex-premier also noted that the door to his party remains open to those who are interested in joining.

Pellegrini declared that the project isn’t meant to form an opposing party to Smer-SD leader Robert Fico or his party for that matter. “Our rival is the governing coalition with all its missteps, amateurism and inability to manage the country in these difficult times. They are our main enemies,” he claimed. At the same time, Pellegrini didn’t want to specify with whom or which other parties his party could cooperate or potentially govern, as he finds this premature. “The party hasn’t even been set up, we haven’t even been elected. That’s why I find it rather arrogant and insolent to speak about whom we are or aren’t going to govern with,” he said, remarking that the plan is to work on the party with humility.

Speaking of the financing of the party, Pellegrini stated that the party will set up a transparent bank account when it’s registered and given an identification number. “You’ll see how every single [euro] moves,” he said. When asked whether he’s received any offers from known oligarchs, Pellegrini replied that he hasn’t. “In the beginning, we’ll have no other option than to finance the party ourselves. We are MPs, relatively well earning,” he noted, claiming that the party doesn’t need a massive campaign because people already know its figures, who previously occupied senior state posts.

Pellegrini stressed that he doesn’t want the party to be linked to any suspicions of dealing with oligarchs because this would damage the idea of a social democracy party.
When asked whether the group intends to create its own parliamentary caucus and what will happen with Pellegrini as parliamentary vice-chair for Smer-SD, the ex-premier replied that these matters will be dealt with when the party has been set up. “We want to have the number of our MPs settled at a session due to be held in September, and this will give us a legitimate right to vie for a caucus,” he said. However, he noted that he’s already been given various hints that Parliament might not approve the creation of such a caucus in the end.

Pellegrini claimed that the group won’t necessarily try to attract a total of 19 MPs, which would make them the strongest opposition grouping in the House. The important thing is that any new colleagues should join the party in good faith.

When inquired why the MPs decided to leave Smer-SD, Tomas replied that they haven’t noticed the party making any honest efforts to change itself. According to Tomas, they understand Fico, who wants to continue to lead Smer as its founder.