Cabinet of civil servants replaces Heger government

Nfter the previous Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced his resignation, President Zuzana Čaputová announced on Sunday that she would appoint Ludovít Ódor as his successor. He was previously vice governor of the Slovakian central bank NBS and is to lead a cabinet of civil servants made up of non-party experts until the early elections on September 30th. The bang in Pressburg (Bratislava) was preceded last week by the resignations of Agriculture Minister Samuel Vlčan because of a corruption scandal and Foreign Minister Rastislav Káčer. The latter in particular came as a surprise.

Heger had recently tried to save what was left of his minority government. He offered President Zuzana Čaputová either to fill only the vacant posts with non-party experts or to resign as head of government herself in order to let at least those heads of department who are responsible for distributing social and economic aid and supporting Ukraine continue to work. However, Čaputová did not accept that.

Heavy turbulence since the 2020 election

After a successful vote of no confidence in December, the Heger government already had only limited powers. The centre-right coalition had previously broken up. The government that took office in 2020, initially under Igor Matovič, leader of the conservative Olano party, was subject to severe turbulence from the start, which mainly stemmed from the coalition itself. Matovič was constantly cockfighting with his coalition partners. In 2021, Matovič resigned in favor of his then party friend Heger, but remained in the cabinet as finance minister. Because the quarrels continued, the liberal SaS went into opposition. Since then, the government no longer has a majority.

This situation primarily benefits the opposition parties that describe themselves as social-democratic. These are the Smer (‘direction’) under longtime Prime Minister Robert Fico and the split-off Smer (‘voice’) under Peter Pellegrini, also a former prime minister. Both have opposed Slovakia’s previous policy of strong military support for Ukraine, including with combat aircraft. Fico speaks out against any arms deliveries. Members of the outgoing government also lament disinformation campaigns by pro-Russian media and social media platforms.

With current polls unlikely to lead to a future government not headed by Fico or Pellegrini, the current turmoil could have significant implications for foreign policy.

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