BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — A political crisis in Slovakia set off by the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee deepened Monday when a junior party in the governing coalition called for resolving the situation by holding early elections.
Bela Bugar, chairman of the Most-Hid party of mostly ethnic Hungarians, said that if its two governing partners don’t agree to negotiate an early vote, his party is ready to leave the coalition.
“We believe that only early elections would solve this situation,” Bugar said after a meeting of his party’s leadership that took almost eight hours.
Bugar’s announcement means the government created after the 2016 general election could fall apart soon.
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President Andrej Kiska also has proposed early elections or substantial changes in the government as a way out of the crisis.
Monday’s announcement came three days after tens of thousands of Slovaks joined in anti-government protests across the country to demand a thorough investigation of the shooting deaths of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova. They were the biggest protests in Slovakia since the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution. Kuciak was writing about ties between the Italian mafia and people close to Prime Minister Robert Fico.
Bugar said Fico rejected the Most-Hid party’s proposal for a snap vote. Fico is leader of the leftist Smer-Social Democracy party. The ultranationalist Slovak National Party that is the third coalition member said it was willing to negotiate an early vote.
Earlier Monday, Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak announced he would resign from his post amid the crisis. Kalinak’s resignation was a key requirement of Most-Hid for it remaining in the coalition.
Kalinak said he hoped that by resigning, “I will contribute to the stabilization of the situation in Slovakia.”
But organizers of the anti-government rallies said Monday that the interior minister stepping down “must be only a beginning” and announced more rallies for Friday to demand the government’s resignation.
Kalinak is Fico’s key ally in Smer-Social Democracy, which has previously been alleged to have links to corruption. Thousands demanded Kalinak’s resignation last year after he was tied to earlier corruption scandals.
An international team of journalists has been formed to complete Kuciak’s story.
This story has been corrected to show the crisis is in Slovakia, not in Hungary