Slovak Interim Prime Minister Eduard Heger resigned last Sunday: President Zuzana Čaputová appointed the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Slovakia (NBS) Ľudovít Ódor as head of a caretaker government (the first one in Slovakia’s history), which will take office on May 15th. The PM explained on tv he took this decision “to leave space to try with a government of technocrats to lead Slovakia stably and peacefully to democratic parliamentary elections.” Heger decided to take a step back after pressure intensified in recent weeks from both his government team and political parties. Over the weekend, Agriculture Minister Samuel Vlčan (an OĽaNO nominee) and Foreign Minister Rastislav Káčer (Demokrati) resigned. The former over allegations that he received through his own subsidiary a European grant while in office; the latter in controversy over Heger’s own failure to resign.
The position of the PM, who already held the interim in Finance and Health, has become untenable. For weeks, the opposition has been insisting on the unreliability of the premier. Former PM Peter Pellegrini, head of the Hlas-SD party (given second place according to polls) has insisted on the government’s weakness and inability to face the current “chaos in the country.” Several times in recent weeks he has called for Čaputová’s intervention to appoint an interim government to lead the country to the September 30th elections. Opposition leader Robert Fico (chairman of Smer-SD, credited as the leading party in the country with 17 percent) called for further anticipation of parliamentary elections in July (which is highly unlikely), and like Pellegrini he is satisfied with Heger’s resignation.
It will not be easy for Heger who founded the Demokrati (“Democrats”) in March this year, to shake off this reputational damage. During the election race, he will run no longer as the outgoing PM, but as a mere extra-parliamentary party leader. Fears in September of the victory of social-democratic Moscow-leaning parties, worry the Demokrati and President Čaputová. Progresívne Slovensko (the centrist and progressive party, ranked third according to polls) is available for occasional cooperation with the caretaker government led by Ľudovít Ódor. A 46-year-old technocrat, the NBS Deputy Governor has been chosen “because of his experience,” as well as not being a member of any party, the Head of State affirmed. A former adviser to PM Iveta Radičová and Finance Minister Ivan Miklós, a financial markets analyst, Ľudovít Ódor also served until 2017 as VP of the Association of Independent Fiscal Councils of the EU.
(Published on amedeogasparini.com)