June 5, 2023

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The President of Slovakia chooses a government of technocrats after the resignation of the Prime Minister

(Reuters) – Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova has named deputy central bank governor Ludovit Odor to lead a government of technocrats after interim Prime Minister Eduard Hager resigned on Sunday, just months before snap elections in September.

Slovakia, a member of the European Union and NATO, has suffered through months of political uncertainty as Heger’s ruling coalition weakened, amid a period of high inflation and war in neighboring Ukraine.

The country’s political landscape is fragmented ahead of elections that could be won by the largest opposition party, which opposes continued military aid to Kiev.

Heger, who has led the government since 2021 – recently resigned in an interim capacity – after a series of high-profile resignations and calls from the opposition to step aside. Caputova said she would name the remaining members of Odor’s technocratic cabinet after May 15.

“I consider it important for a smooth ending and transfer of agendas between governments,” she said in a televised address.

Odor, 46, has been the deputy governor of the National Bank of Slovakia since 2018.

Slovakia plunged into crisis in September last year when Heger’s ruling center-right coalition lost its majority after the libertarian SaS party quit, unhappy with efforts to help people affected by rising energy and food costs.

Heger lost a motion of no confidence in December, and in January, lawmakers approved a snap election in September.

Last week, the Minister of Agriculture resigned from his post after a scandal over a subsidy to a company he owned. He denied any wrongdoing. On Friday, the foreign minister tendered his resignation.

The departures left Heger leading several ministries, including finance, as these positions could not be filled while the government was in a caretaker capacity.

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Heger said, “I decided to ask the president to remove my authority and leave space for the president to try with a government of technocrats to lead Slovakia firmly and peacefully to democratic parliamentary elections.”

Opinion polls support the opposition Smer-SD party, led by former prime minister Robert Fico, which opposed military aid to Ukraine.

Slovakia has been a staunch supporter of Kiev since the Russian invasion and in April of this year it sent its retired fleet of Soviet-made MiG fighters.

Smer-SD led a Focus poll last month, with 17.7%. HLAS, founded by another former prime minister and one-time Smer-SD member, Peter Pellegrini, is in second place with 17.0%.

(Reporting) By Jason Hovett in Prague Editing by Peter Graf

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