Fico Gets Mandate to Form Slovak Cabinet, Lacking Partners

  • Premier has until March 18 to agree on ruling coalition
  • Most-Hid, Siet party leaders reject Fico's call for talks

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico received a go-ahead to form his third cabinet, with slim chances for a quick solution to the post-election impasse after parties crucial to reaching a majority refused to join him in talks.

The mandate from President Andrej Kiska is valid until March 18, said Fico, whose Smer party won the most votes on Saturday. Meanwhile, talks are under way on a rival bid by Richard Sulik, chairman of the second-ranked SaS party, who is envisaging a center-right coalition without Smer.

“There aren’t many alternatives around,” Fico told journalists after meeting Kiska in the capital Bratislava. “We will need to put all our strength and skills into” the attempt, he said.

The premier will struggle to find partners from the seven other groups that made it into the assembly as all but the Slovak National Party rejected working with him. If he fails to form a cabinet, the baton will pass to Sulik, a pro-business politician who fought against aid to Greece during the fellow euro area member state’s debt crisis.

Leaders of the Most-Hid party, which mostly represents Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian minority, and Siet didn’t accept Fico’s invitation to talks, said Lubica Koncalova, a spokeswoman for Smer. The two parties, alongside groups called Ordinary People and We Are Family, are the potential partners in a Sulik-led coalition, as well as the Slovak National Party party.

Sulik’s plan depends on whether Most-Hid leader Bela Bugar can overcome his party’s long-standing differences with the Slovak nationalists, who have a history of accusing Hungarians of undermining the country. Without Most-Hid, the other parties would have a fragile majority of only 76 of parliament’s 150 seats, creating potential for instability.

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