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Slovak caretaker PM seeks new majority to finish term

Slovak parliament opens way to September early election
Slovak parliament opens way to September early election Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023
By Reuters
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- Slovak centre-right Prime Minister Eduard Heger, serving in a caretaker capacity after losing a no-confidence vote last month, said on Monday he would seek to put together a new parliamentary majority in the coming days to finish his full four-year term.

Heger's government fell after a libertarian coalition partner, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS,) pulled out of the cabinet in September and together with several other government deputies turned against the cabinet in a December vote.

President Zuzana Caputova, as well as some politicians, including members of the current coalition, have called for an an election due next year to be brought forward, but Heger said he believed he could succeed in forming a majority.

"My ambition is to collect 76 votes so we can continue until the end of the election period," Heger said in recorded comments sent to reporters.

He said he believed his centre-right, Christian OLANO party would win support from his coalition partner Sme Rodina (We Are Family) and it was reaching out to the SaS party.

There is no easy way to hold an early election before the polls due in February 2024. Under current rules, the 150-seat parliament would need to find 90 votes and change the constitution to allow the vote to be brought forward.

The SaS mainly left the ruling coalition due to frequent clashes with OLANO Finance Minister Igor Matovic, who was forced to quit the caretaker cabinet in return for SaS's support for the 2023 budget in December.

"The SaS had clearly communicated that their aim was to get Igor Matovic out of the government. Today, Igor Matovic is not a minister so I do not see a problem or obstacle for them against supporting this," he said.

Heger's route to a majority could be complicated by splits within parties and the unclear views of independents.

A referendum on Jan. 21 could ease the path to early elections, amending the constitution to say that just 76 votes would suffice in parliament. But the referendum may be invalid if - as in previous cases and as opinion polls suggest - turnout falls short of the 50% threshold.

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