Slovak parliament blocked for third straight day

Opposition lawmakers in Slovakia blocked the work of the parliament for a third day Wednesday, keeping the legislature from starting its September session.

According to the TASR news agency only 71 deputies were present Wednesday. At least 76 of the assembly's 150 lawmakers have to vote to start the session - a number that the ruling bloc and its supporters can't muster.

Pavol Hrusovsky, speaker of the parliament and leader of the Christian Democrats, one of the parties in Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's ruling coalition, called a new session for next Tuesday.

A leader of one of the parties in the coalition, however, suggested Tuesday that early elections could be the only way out of the political crisis.

Bela Bugar, leader of the Party of Hungarian Coalition, said his party might propose shortening the parliamentary term. President Ivan Gasparovic supports such a move.

However, in order to shorten the term, three-fifths of lawmakers would have to vote in favor. Neither Dzurinda's coalition nor the opposition has that much support in parliament, and such a move would require a broad agreement across the political spectrum.

The next general elections are scheduled for September 2006, the AP reports.

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