Photographer: Lisi Niesner/Bloomberg

Slovak President Says He’ll Appoint New Cabinet Thursday

  • Pellegrini to lead cabinet of Smer, Most and Nationalists
  • Protests to continue despite Prime Minister Fico’s departure

Slovakia’s president agreed to appoint a new cabinet led by Peter Pellegrini, a move that allows the ruling coalition to avert early elections following the largest anti-government protests since the fall of communism.

A day after he sent back a list of ministers saying it wouldn’t restore trust in public institutions, President Andrej Kiska said he’d appoint Pellegrini and his cabinet Thursday, allowing them to seek a vote of confidence in parliament. With the three-party coalition in control of 79 of the assembly’s 150 seats, it’s almost sure to win approval, even though protests triggered by a journalist’s murder continue to grow.

“The government of Mr. Pellegrini will now seek to win a confidence vote in parliament,” Kiska told journalists in Bratislava Wednesday, adding that he wasn’t “100 percent satisfied” with the cabinet list. “But even more importantly, it will need to fight for the public’s trust. In today’s tense atmosphere it will be a difficult task.”

Pellegrini is replacing the ruling Smer party’s leader, Robert Fico, who resigned March 15 under pressure from outcry over the killing of a reporter who was investigating ties between criminal groups and government officials. Fico’s departure was a victory for opposition parties, even as it removed one of the few self-proclaimed pro-European Union leaders in the bloc’s eastern wing, where a pantheon of populist, euroskeptic figures have increasingly clashed with the bloc over democratic values.

Pellegrini, a lawmaker for Smer since 2006 whose career posts include parliamentary speaker and deputy premier, has pledged to maintain the country’s pro-EU posture. Once appointed, he’ll have 30 days to win a confidence motion.

Fitch Ratings said after Fico’s resignation that “sharp changes to economic or fiscal policy are unlikely.” The company rates Slovakia at A+, its fifth-best grade.

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