Slovakia's prime minister ready to call elections earlier

Slovakia's prime minister is ready to call early elections for June, a Slovak news agency reported Tuesday, following the collapse of his governing coalition. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda planned to propose early elections on Wednesday at a meeting between parliamentary party leaders as a way to resolve a crisis triggered by the Christian Democrat's decision this week to pull out of the governing coalition, the TASR news agency reported.

"June seems to be realistic," Dzurinda was quoted as saying by TASR. Officials at the prime minister's office were not immediately available for comment. The Christian Democrats' exit further weakened the minority government to 53 seats in the 150-seat parliament. The interior minister, justice minister and education minister, who are all Christian Democrats, submitted their resignations on Tuesday, the president's spokesman Marek Trubac said.

The Christian Democrats also moved to delay elections until September as scheduled. The parliamentary speaker, who is also Christian Democrat chairman, Pavol Hrusovsky using his powers to call an election for Sept. 16, before resigning as speaker on Tuesday.

"He did it to prevent possible confusion about who should choose the election date when the parliament is without its speaker," the party's spokeswoman Anna Andrejuvova said. She said parliament could still decide to hold elections at an earlier date. The Christian Democrats withdrew from the coalition to protest Dzurinda's refusal to add a treaty with the Vatican to the government's agenda.

The treaty would allow workers in predominantly Catholic Slovakia to refuse professional duties if they conflicted with their beliefs. Doctors could refuse to provide abortions or contraceptives, teachers could refuse to teach evolution and employees could refuse to work on Sunday if it went against their religious beliefs. Dzurinda has said the proposal is unacceptable because it draws religion into secular affairs, reports the AP.

N.U.