The tension does not seem to be subsiding in Slovak politics, as President Zuzana Čaputová has decided not to run for a second term in the spring of 2024, and Parliament has rejected Ľudovít Ódor government’s manifesto this month. The decision not to run again was one of the most difficult in her life, the Head of State affirmed. Among the reasons for this unexpected decision are death threats against her and her family, as well as personal insults from, among others, opposition leader Robert Fico (Smer-SD), who has painted her as a puppet of the U.S. government and funded by philanthropist George Soros. “Do not take my decision as proof that decency cannot prevail”, the president reassured. The Head of State is a respected and decent politician abroad with integrity and human qualities. Extremists criticized her for pressing for LGBT+ values and hesitations to appoint the caretaker government.
In the meantime, the speculations for the posts the president herself might assume in the future have been made. Acting Defense Minister Martin Sklenár said she would be a good candidate for the post of NATO secretary general – thus succeeding Jens Stoltenberg, whose term expires next year. It would be good for Central Europe if the post was held by someone familiar with the situation on NATO’s eastern flank, Sklenár affirmed. For now, the known presidential candidates for 2024 are former judge Štefan Harabin, and perhaps scientist Robert Mistrík or former foreign minister Ivan Korčok. An Ipsos poll for the “Dennik N” daily from June showed that Čaputová scores first in the credibility ranking with almost 43 percent in Slovakia. She would almost certainly have won the 2024 election: the fact that she does not want to run again is a loss for the country’s image.
Čaputová’s announcement sparked political reactions in Slovakia. The first to speak was Fico, who missed no opportunity to affirm she has “always turned her back on the Slovak people when they needed”. Far-right SNS party, a possible Smer-SD’s partner in the September elections, welcomed the decision too. Due to her unpreparedness, Andrej Danko stated, Čaputová has proved unable to address the problems of Slovaks. While confirming he has no political aspirations to succeed the Head of State, Peter Pellegrini (Hlas-SD) respects the decision but pointed out that people lacking prior political experience do not last long in top political positions – as was the case of former president Andrej Kiska (2014-2019). Michal Šimečka (PS) stressed that the fate of democracy does not rest on one single person, and thanked Čaputová for promoting values of decency, equality, and decency.
The same did Eduard Heger (Demokrati) and Richard Sulík (Saska), who equally appreciated her job “in extremely difficult times”. These comments were also echoed by PM Ódor, who just a month after his appointment failed to win the confidence of Parliament for his manifesto. This increases the level of political uncertainty in the country. One of the reasons why the government did not gain confidence is that Ódor refused to include the parties’ pre-election proposals in his manifesto. On June 15th, of the 136 MPs present in the Parliament, only 34 supported the manifesto (Saska, the independents around Heger), while 43 voted against (Smer-SD), 54 abstained (We Are Family and OĽaNO). Without confidence, the government will not be able to take important economic, social, and foreign policy measures. The result of the Parliament’s vote is not surprising, Ódor bitterly commented.
(Published on amedeogasparini.com)