Slovak Parties Ink Coalition Deal, Ending Post-Vote Uncertaintyby
Fico's Smer, SNS, Most-Hid and Siet sign coalition agreement
President Kiska to appoint cabinet of former foes by Thursday
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico signed a coalition agreement with three other parties, overcoming past differences between disparate political forces to avoid early elections and block far-right extremists from gaining influence.
Fico, whose Smer party won a March 5 election but lost its parliamentary majority, endorsed the pact with the leaders of the conservative Slovak National Party, the ethnic-Hungarian Most-Hid and the pro-business Siet party on Tuesday in Bratislava. The deal ends uncertainty following the ballot, which saw a record eight groups including the far-right People’s Party enter parliament. It also brings together together political foes that have clashed in the past.
“There is no other alternative,” Fico said after the parties signed the agreement. “The only alternative is chaos, an undemocratic caretaker government and pointless early elections.”
The new cabinet is backed by a majority of 81 of parliament’s 150 seats. The coalition has agreed on basic goals including reducing corporate tax and increasing welfare spending. But it has avoided Fico’s main campaign issue -- keeping migrants out of Slovakia -- after it gave rise to an array of anti-refugee parties. Still, because of the coalition’s make up, there’s “a high risk” that unity will unravel before the end of its four-year term, Otilia Dhand, an analyst at Teneo Intelligence in Brussels, said in a note.
“Fico’s cabinet is expected to be rather fragile,” she said. “The silver lining of intra-coalition differences is that they make big policy shifts unlikely; they will also help to blunt Fico’s sharp pre-election rhetoric over the migrant crisis.”
The coalition pairs Fico’s Smer with Siet, a two-year-old party that criticized the prime minister for non-transparent public spending and failure to fund schools and health care. At the same time, Most-Hid, which mostly represents ethnic-Hungarians, agreed to team up with the Slovak Nationalist Party, whose former leaders used to criticize the minority for undermining the state. Fico urged the parties to join forces to prevent the People’s Party, whose leader has the Nazi regime that ruled Slovakia during World War II, from gaining influence.
President Andrej Kiska will appoint the cabinet after parliament’s first session on Wednesday or Thursday, Fico said. One of the main mandates, the Finance Ministry, will be retained by sitting Minister Peter Kazimir, a staunch critic of Greece’s economic policies at the height of that country’s debt crisis.