Now outgoing Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger (R) poses with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán (L), wrapping him in a scarf depicting the Slovak national coat of arms.
The Slovak government led by Eduard Heger failed in a parliamentary vote of no confidence against it on Thursday, opening the way for new elections in the country. Since the departure of their liberal coalition partners in September, the minority Slovak government was propped up by right-wing politicians in Parliament.
The Heger cabinet, which has been in a minority since September, was on Thursday voted out of office by a narrow majority of 78 votes in the 150-seat Bratislava legislature. Some of the pro-government MPs left the chamber before the vote.
The cabinet was opposed by the Liberals – the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) movement led by Richard Sulík, who left the former ruling coalition in September claiming that “the government is not capable of addressing the problems of the people and has stopped fighting the mafia and corruption”. The ruling coalition rejected these accusations, responding that the Liberals were acting only for their own individual political calculations and were ignoring the interests of the people and the country. This is the third Slovak government in recent years that the Europhile liberals of the SaS have managed to collapse via a no confidence motion. Tabling of the motion was also supported by some other opposition MPs.
Reacting to the result of the parliamentary vote, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said the vote showed that his government had “not been hanging on the votes of fascists and extremists in recent months”, referring to the fact that his minority government could only survive by being propped up by right-wing ĽS NS party MPs.
Robert Fico, leader of the largest opposition party in the Bratislava parliament, Smer-SD, welcomed the fall of the government and said they saw early elections as the only option. The fall of the Heger cabinet was welcomed by most opposition parties, with many calling it “the best Christmas present the public could have been given”. The leader of the Slovakian-Hungarian Alliance party, Krisztián Forró was slightly more cautious in his assessment saying that “there is no reason to rejoice, as it shows the state Slovakia is in at the moment.”
Early elections are a likely scenario, and the centrist parties lead by two former prime ministers, Peter Pellegrini and Robert Fico have by far the best chance of forming the next government. Both politicians, especially Fico, have been committed to the regional co-operation among the Visegrad 4 members (Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, Hungary) which helped in creating a regional united front against Brussel’s centralizing efforts at the expense of national governments.
Eduard Heger’s government has shown little enthusiasm towards the V4 project, calling the relationship between some of its members “frosty” in a recent statement. Critics have also pointed at the Heger government’s eagerness to be in line with European and US geopolitical interests even against Slovak public opinion, which had caused the popularity of the two largest government parties to plummet to 7 and 8 percent respectively.
Featured Photo:Facebook Eduard Heger