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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Slovak government in crisis, SaS party dissolves coalition agreement

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More than a year later, the four-member governing coalition in Slovakia is facing a new crisis. The smaller government party Svoboda a solidarita (SaS) announced on Wednesday that it has dissolved the coalition agreement and is no longer willing to cooperate with Finance Minister Igor Matovič as a member of the government.

SaS chief Richard Sulík told reporters today that four SaS ministers will resign if a new arrangement of relations in the coalition is not agreed by the end of August. Matovič’s most powerful government movement, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO), previously rejected a request by SaS bosses to leave the cabinet. Without the votes of SaS MPs, the other three governing parties would no longer have a majority in the lower house.

SaS’s ultimatum is, for now, the culmination of the latest escalation in relations that began in 2020 in the coalition. During a similar government crisis last year, the SaS, along with the other government party Zalidi, forced Matovič to resign as prime minister. . Matovič was then appointed head of the new cabinet by his party colleague and until then Finance Minister Eduard Heger.

“The name of our coalition’s biggest problem is Igor Matovic. He has turned almost the whole society against him with his attacks, and his ideas are destroying our country. As if our government is not affected by the coronavirus, the economic recession, the energy crisis, the war with our neighbors, there is also Igor Matovič,” he said.

In June, the SaS stopped attending meetings of the leaders of the coalition parties, which Matovič justified by his continued verbal outbursts against the SaS. Matovič and Sulík are at long-term disagreement with each other as they deal with various issues; Recently, Matovič has not spared criticism of SaS, for example, for higher financial aid to families amounting to around 1.2 billion euros (almost 30 billion kronor) per year, which the Finance Minister is pushing in the lower house. Even without the votes of SaS MPs, but with the support of some of the far right.

On the contrary, Matovič made the salary increase in education, which had a much lesser impact on state finances, on the condition that certain taxes were increased, which SaS had long rejected. The Minister of Education is Branislav Gröhling, vice president of SaS.

OLaNO has already ruled out the possibility of his boss leaving the cabinet before the SaS leadership meeting, according to him such a request contradicts the coalition agreement. “There are things that unite us more than divide us. Slovakia is going through the hardest times in its history, now is not the time for the government to fall,” he told Heger SaS, the Prime Minister and member of the OLaNO management. The movement does not intend to support even a possible call for early elections.

According to Sulík, SaS will inform the prime minister next week about the conditions for joining the new coalition, one of which will be that Matovič is no longer a member of the government. In addition to the position of Minister of Education, SaS has also occupied the seats of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Economy in the government.

Some Slovak media refer to Matovič as a man of conflict, who, regardless of the position of government partners or experts, supports his proposals and does not spare strong criticism of opponents of his initiatives. The opposition called him a jester again. OLaNO’s popularity has dropped significantly since the last election, according to polls, and Matovič himself is among the most unreliable politicians in the country.

While the Slovak government sided with Kiev by highlighting pro-European stances in the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Slovak opposition criticized the supply of weapons to Ukraine.

After the current governing coalition took office, police began prosecuting a number of justice workers in various cases, including judges, former high-ranking officials, and former police leadership since the long-term rule of the now opposition Social Democrats. (Smer-SD), former prime minister Robert Fico. Smér-SD is now the second most popular party in the country, after the new Hlas-social democracy party founded by former prime minister Peter Pellegrini after he left Fico’s party.

Source: Seznam Zpravy

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