Slovak coalition determined to continue, party leader says

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Leaders of the three parties in the Slovak government will try to overcome a dispute sparked by a junior coalition partner, a senior politician said after talks on Tuesday.

The Slovak National Party (SNS) surprised its partners - Prime Minister Robert Fico’s centre-left Smer and the ethnic Hungarian Most-Hid party - on Monday by pulling out of the agreement and calling for a new deal reflecting the country’s strong economic growth.

The dispute does not mean an immediate collapse of the cabinet in Slovakia, which is a member of the European Union and euro zone. But a lack of agreement could threaten its future in the longer term.

“At today’s talks, which were sincere, it was stated unambiguously that there is no alternative to this government coalition,” Most-Hid chairman Bela Bugar told reporters after the meeting.

“Therefore the coalition leaders are determined to continue. We have heard the opinions of coalition parties’ leaders, which we will analyse and we will continue on Friday.”

Neither the prime minister, nor SNS chairman Andrej Danko, spoke to reporters after the meeting.

The government needs the votes of all three coalition parties to maintain a majority in the 150-seat parliament. A collapse of the coalition could lead to the government’s fall through a no-confidence vote in parliament.

The coalition has ruled since March 2016 and the next regular election is due in 2020.

(Corrects name of SNS chairman to Andrej not Antonin in par 6)

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Andrew Bolton