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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Slovakia is mired in a government crisis: who is to blame and what are the ways out?

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More than a year later, Slovakia is facing a new government crisis. At the center of the debate is current Finance Minister Igor Matovic, who was deprived of his post as Prime Minister in the spring of last year due to the previous crisis.

The ruling Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS) announced Wednesday that it has terminated the coalition agreement. Its chairman and economy minister, Richard Sulík, said they did not want to be in government with Matovič, who remains head of the most powerful government party, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO).

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

SaS is threatening to leave the government at the end of August if Matovič stays in it. The OLaNO movement excludes this. “We will not accept that someone who won six percent in the elections, demanding the dismissal of the party chairman who received 25 percent of the vote in the elections,” said Jaroslav Naď, Minister of Defense and member of the OLaNO leadership.

Political expert Grigorij Mesežnikov analyzed the Slovak government crisis for Seznam Zpravy. “You don’t need to be scared right away. But the thought that this could hurt[former Prime Minister Robert]Fico is justified,” Mesežnikov says. The interview also discusses the nature of the main actors of the crisis and outlines how the current government can stay in power.

I will ask directly. Will this government still be in power in Slovakia at the beginning of September?

This is a good question. We don’t know what will happen before September 1. Richard Sulík has asked Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger to present a new draft of the coalition agreement. The party’s termination of the coalition agreement does not mean that it does not want to continue in power, it wants the conditions to be determined in a different way.

The coalition agreement has been violated several times so far. The last time the so-called pro-family package was enacted with the help of a section of the opposition, even the most problematic section of the opposition, the fascists.

family pack

At the end of June, the Slovak Parliament approved a package of measures to increase financial support worth around 1.2 billion euros (about 30 billion kronor) per year to families with dependent children, thus breaking the veto of President Zuzana Čaputová.

Not surprisingly, the four-member governing coalition (OLaNO, SaS, SME RODINA and Zalidi) did not unite during the vote, with the lower house overriding the president’s veto thanks to the support of far-right deputies elected to Marian Kotleba’s party. .

The package was designed and introduced by the chairman of the most powerful government movement OLaNO Matovič. In response, SaS chairman Richard Sulík, whose party did not support Matovič’s proposals, spoke of the possibility of SaS leaving the coalition.

SaS has a problem with the way Igor Matovič has implemented his suggestions, so they gave him an ultimatum. We know until now that Matovič does not want to be in government. But we do not know whether they will not accept, for example, that the government cabinet will be without political party leaders. This means that Sulík will also have to leave with Matovič and Remišová (Zalidi, head of the smallest government party, noted.). But I am quite skeptical about this. However, there is some room for negotiation.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger will of course play an important role. Since the day he took office, he has contributed to very good developments in many areas. However, he has not yet emerged as an undisputed authority in areas where Matovič comes into play. He is very friendly with the Minister of Finance.

So, can it be said that the main problem of the current government crisis is precisely Igor Matovič, as Sulík claims?

I don’t want to simplify the situation. Of course, there were also conflicts over the substantive content. I think Sulík himself made various communication and relationship mistakes. But I think Igor Matovič is constantly the main actor in conflicts in the governing coalition. This is an undeniable fact.

He’s such a weird person, I think his ability to consider feedback on his actions and suggestions has diminished. He’s pretty vain. It is very difficult for him to put up with what seems like loss or compromise. He must always win no matter what.

About Grigory Mesezhnikov, Igor Matovich

He left the post of prime minister a year and a few months ago. At the time, there was talk that the government would fall, so he made such a move and changed positions with Heger. But he remained in government and continues to create the same problems. That is, hostile relations with Sulík, political manipulations, etc.

Staff exchange in the government coalition

Slovakia also experienced a crisis similar to the current crisis in 2021. At the time, the SaS and Zalidi party forced Matovič to resign as prime minister, who later became his party mate and then finance minister Eduard Heger. At the time, SaS reiterated that Matovič did not have the ability to run the country in terms of personality, communication or management.

Although Matovič left the prime minister’s seat, he did not leave the government. He took over the key Finance Ministry after Heger. He also remained at the head of the OLaNO movement.

In addition, Matovič is still in a fairly strong position, the main treasurer of the country. Your offer (pro-family package, noted.) claimed to be the strongest in his own department, no matter what his coalition partners think. With the support of the opposition, the fascists, he suppressed the package, which was absolutely against the coalition agreement.

Matovič’s departure may not solve all problems, but it will certainly contribute to maintaining the governing coalition.

To what extent is the current government crisis a personal disagreement between Sulík and Matovič as two hostile politicians?

This is definitely a problem in their relationship, but maybe not entirely in the first place. Yes, the most common conflicts take place between these two sides. There are ideological and programmatic differences behind this. SaS claims to be liberal, OLaNO profiles itself as a conservative entity. However, these differences are certainly not an obstacle to cooperation.

I think the problem is deeper. The fact that this most often manifests itself between Matovič and Sulík relates to their personal relationship dating back to 2010. But the problem is Matovič’s general attitude. He wants to push what he thinks is important at all costs. He is a very angry, vindictive, selfish politician. These are not just his qualities, other politicians have these qualities as well, but in his case it is their supra-standard concentration.

Like I said, no sense of feedback. And it hurts him. His party fell in the electoral preferences rankings. They were 25 percent, now they are below 10 percent. He is personally the least popular member of the government and even one of the least popular politicians ever. Even Marian Kotleba (Chairman of the far-right Slovak party Kotlebovci-Lidová strana Naše Slovensko, noted.), which I suspect is more reliable based on these surveys. At the same time, Kotleba is an anti-system politician, but it cannot be said that Matovič is a democratic politician, not a classical populist.

What stance does Richard Sulík take in this conflict? Wouldn’t it be an exaggeration to say that making a mess is partly his political style? Considered to have played a role in the fall of the government of Iveta Radičová in 2012.

An important note. Yes, he played a role in the downfall of Iveta Radičová’s government, but with Matovič. They brought the government together. Together, they could not relinquish their doctrinal positions, especially in Sulík’s case.

However, what I said does not mean that he is responsible for the current crisis. Sulík acts more responsibly than Matovič. But in this case it also plays an important role. He also makes more concessions, not as much as Matovič. Matovič has even admitted that he will leave the government when he leaves, so there is some self-reflection there. He is not a man incapable of making concessions.

Grigory Mesezhnikov

Grigorij Mesežnikov is a Slovak political analyst. He regularly comments on the Slovak political scene for Slovak and foreign media. He is the co-founder of the Institute for Public Issues (IVO), an independent organization that brings together experts from various fields. Headed since 1999.

Grigory Mesezhnikov.

What about the other two coalition parties, are they somehow getting into this crisis?

We are the Family movement is ready for any solution to keep them in government. These are for mold release of Matovič with and without Sulík. Mainly for the government to continue. But realistically, they can’t get into it anyway.

While Veronika Remišová’s Zalidi party played an important role in the previous crisis when they met with the SaS in 2021 and forced Matovič to resign, today these parties are completely irrelevant.

Of course they’re watching and they’re nervous. The People’s Party has low preferences in the early elections, so it will most likely not be able to enter parliament. The We Are One Family party isn’t going too well either. But in no way can they get into it.

What are the possible solutions to this crisis? Could there be a conciliatory resignation of both hostile politicians?

This has not yet been directly stated in the ultimatum. But there may be a solution. But Matovič probably won’t accept this, I think. He has strong support from his party, including Heger. Training Matovič would be a great defeat for them.

I will put it this way, that OLaNO and Matoviče have been in operation for less than two and a half years gives little chance that nothing will change in the next seven weeks. But if Matovič experienced a divine inspiration and began to question his own conscience, if he woke up in the morning and instead of thinking about some strange proposals, for example social packages or pandemic measures, he would realize that it was he who could turn the world down. Government and think about it.

Maybe it could happen to Boris Johnson when he started questioning his own conscience.

About Grigory Mesezhnikov, Igor Matovich

The probability of this situation being resolved is not zero, but relatively low.

What if SaS leaves the coalition in early September?

Ministers will resign. They have already stopped going to the meetings of the leaders of the coalition parties, but this does not mean that they left the coalition, they terminated the agreement and are waiting for a new one.

If they are going to leave, there are a few options. The rest of the coalition partners may agree with SaS to support some measures to have a majority in ratifying key laws. This field is there, for example in the economic field or in the fight against corruption. But it’s problematic.

SaS will probably support one thing, but certainly not everything. Then the government can try to enforce the laws with the help of someone else. There may be a problem. If Matovič remains in government, it is possible that he will insist that laws he considers good must be enforced, even with the support of fascists. However, it can be difficult for many members of the coalition to cooperate with them.

Other options are various moves for a no-confidence vote that could lead to the government’s downfall. Or an early election.

I do not know whether the government will remain in the minority, reach an agreement or fall immediately. During these assessments, it is important to consider what the electorate may or may not appreciate.

Does effective resolution of the government crisis contain the fear that the collapse of the governing coalition could lead to Robert Fico’s return to power?

Of course, these thoughts still exist. Personally, I don’t think Fico will have any victories or comebacks. He has a big problem in relations with other parties. In today’s opposition we have two or three parties to replace the lost votes from the current governing coalition, and a government “without Ficov” could easily be formed, perhaps even without the Voice of Peter Pellegrini (Former prime minister and chairman of the Slovak opposition party Ses-Social Democracy, noted.).

You don’t need to be scared right away. However, the thought that this situation could harm Fico and basically Pellegrini is justified. The options are open. You have to wait.

Source: Seznam Zpravy

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