After 78 lawmakers supported a motion of no confidence, the minority government of Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger was defeated.
His former coalition partner started the vote, which threw the nation into instability as it was already trying to deal with a rising cost of living issue and facing strong opposition for its support of Ukraine.
The collapse of the center-right cabinet is the result of two and a half years of infighting between the neoliberal Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS) of Richard Sulik and the populist Ordinary People party (OLaNO) of Finance Minister Igor Matovic, which was made worse by the strains of the global epidemic.
After Matovic survived a no-confidence vote, it called over his unpredictable leadership and method of publicizing new ideas first on social media; the SaS asked for his resignation as premier in March of last year. Subsequently, it forced him to leave the government this September. The party, which had already successfully overthrown a previous center-right administration in 2012, afterward asked for a vote of no confidence in the entire government.
In a day of high drama and low farce, Matovic first offered to step down in exchange for the SaS’s no-confidence vote being withdrawn and the state budget for the following year being approved.
“The fall of the cabinet at this time will cause complete chaos, and the unapproved state budget will see people in struggles and exceptional financial harm done to the state,” Matovic declared in a statement, explaining that he does not want “the people of Slovakia to be hostages of political games.”
When Matovic traveled to the Presidential Palace to write his resignation letter, he later pulled it back, citing a friend’s advice that “fighters do not bend down to the mafia.” Later, he said that Sulik had joined the “mafia” that had dominated the nation before the most recent election. “I have proof of Richard Sulk’s severe corruption,” he declared. “I will reveal it during the election campaign.”
Matovic “signed the resignation in front of the office personnel but changed his mind at the last possible moment and abruptly grabbed the signed form away from the head of the office,” as President Zuzana Caputova later affirmed on her Facebook page.
In a subsequent statement, Sulik said that Matovic’s actions represent his “unacceptable style of governance” and that “the fall of the government is inevitable.”
Following the vote, Matovic’s party departed the 150-seat parliament chamber. The government lost by 78 votes to 20. The no-confidence motion required 76 votes to pass.
Seventy-three members of the parliament previously supported each of the two major ruling parties. They held 95 seats in the chamber when they took office following the 2020 election.
Heger, a party member of Matovic’s, is scheduled to submit his resignation to the president but is expected to be requested to serve in a caretaker position. At the same time, the politicians dispute over the following course of action. The next general election is planned for February 2024, but most analysts think early elections will now need to be called.