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Slovak Premier, Opposition Clash on Impeachment Attempt

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Slovak opposition is seeking to impeach President Ivan Gasparovic, sparking the biggest clash with his ally Premier Robert Fico, who’s struggling to trim the budget deficit amid the euro-erea’s debt crisis.

Opposition lawmakers today in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, filed a motion calling for a special session, in which the assembly will vote on whether Gasparovic should stand a trial for abusing his powers when he refused to appoint a candidate for attorney general elected by parliament under Iveta Radicova, Fico’s predecessor, Jan Figel, the chairman of the opposition Christian Democrats, told reporters.

The premier has sided with the president, who won a second five-year term in a popular vote in 2009, saying the move is “an attack on the state.” The escalation of tensions between the one-party government and the opposition comes as the slowing economy makes it harder for Fico to meet his pledges to insulate poorer citizens from the crisis.

“Fico is getting nervous,” said Grigorij Meseznikov, Director of the Institute for Public Affairs, a think tank in Bratislava. “The economic outlook is cloudy and being in power is no longer so comfortable for him.”

Parliament’s speaker has to call a special session within 30 days and the impeachment needs to be approved by 90 out of 150 lawmakers to pass it on to the Constitutional Court, which has the final say in the matter.

Fico’s Goals

Fico’s administration is striving to cut budget deficit below the European Union’s limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product even as slowing economic growth reduces tax revenue. Moody’s Investors Service said Jan. 9 the plan is “challenging” as room to raise additional revenue with tax increases is limited.

The impeachment attempt, which will probably fail because of Fico’s parliamentary majority, may boost popular support for the opposition as it “touches Fico’s weak spot,” Meseznikov said, referring to the judiciary system.

As many as 67 percent of people don’t trust Slovak courts, according to a poll conducted by Focus on June 5-11 on a sample of 1,026 people. No margin of error was given.

To contact the reporter on this story: Radoslav Tomek in Bratislava at rtomek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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