Slovakia: Parliament overrides another veto – amendments to controversial language law to take effect

The Slovak National Council has overruled president Ivan Gasparovic’s veto of the language amendment act. It is the second override of a presidential veto in only two days.

The bill introduced amendments to Slovakia’s language law which in the past has already been the subject of conflict between Slovakia and its neighbour Hungary. The original law foresaw fines of up to € 5,000 for the ‘misuse’ of the Slovak language and limited the use of Hungarian in public – a fact that met with criticism from the Hungarian minority living in Slovakia. The amendment to the law (which was only passed in September last year) does not eliminate the controversiality of the stipulations. Now, the maximum is reduced to € 2,500 and local authorities instead of the ministry of culture will able to decide on their imposition. Furthermore, the instances in which penalization is possible have been reduced.

President Gasparovic had sent the bill to parliament for consideration demanding compulsory fines. The Slovak National Party (SNS) reportedly plans to bring the bill before the constitutional court after using all possible ‘legislative measures’ but will therefore need the support of SMER, currently the biggest opposition party.

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