Slovak president pushes for early election after government falls

Dec 16 (Reuters) – Slovak President Zuzana Caputova pushed on Friday for early elections after dismissing Prime Minister Eduard Heger’s government, which lost a no-confidence vote, adding to instability amid an energy crisis and war in Ukraine.

Caputova asked Heger and his cabinet to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new government can be formed, but she said early elections were a better option.

“It is apparent from reactions of political leaders after yesterday’s parliamentary decision that there is no will to form a new government… with parliamentary support,” she said.

“Therefore I want to ask you and other political leaders to take all the steps necessary so that steps leading to an early parliamentary election are taken by the end of January at the latest,” she told Heger.

The country is now facing weeks or months of political talks.

The ruling coalition, with factions from liberal to Christian conservatives, took power in 2020 but lost its majority in September when the libertarian SaS party quit after its leader, Richard Sulik, repeatedly clashed with ruling OLANO party chief Igor Matovic.

Opposition parties, including SaS, toppled Heger’s government, criticising it for chaotic rule and not doing more to help people hurt by soaring energy prices.

Holding an election before the scheduled date in early 2024 needs wide support in parliament, which could be tricky with many of the parties down in the polls.

An early election could affect Slovakia’s support for neighbouring Ukraine, particularly if it brings to power the leftist opposition, which currently leads opinion polls and is critical of military aid to Kyiv.

The political turmoil may also leave Slovakia without a 2023 budget plan as there has not been enough support so far to approve the government’s plans. Without approval, the country will start the year in a provisional framework which will limit government spending powers.

Reporting by Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka in Prague; Editing by Jon Boyle and Nick Macfie

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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