Fico handed 10-day deadline to form Slovak government

Fico handed 10-day deadline to form Slovak government
Fico will need to work fast to pull together a disparate bunch of political foes if he is to form a government.
By bne IntelliNews March 9, 2016

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has been handed a 10-day deadline to form a government by President Andrej Kiska, the president’s press office announced on March 9.

Fico’s task to form a coalition by March 18 from amongst his bitter rivals in Slovak politics looks daunting following the deadlocked result of the March 5 election. His Smer party needs at least two coalition partners to form a majority. In addition, the nationalist and eurosceptic Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS), which came in behind Smer in the vote, announced on March 8 it has unofficially started negotiations over an alternative coalition with five of the other parties that made it to the parliament.

After delaying his meeting with Kiska to collect his mandate by a day, Fico announced that he will start negotiations on creating a governing coalition on March 9. The left-leaning PM faces a choice of trying to forge a deal with a range of fractious centre-right parties or the pair of far-right groups that won seats in the vote.

The vote was a shock for the populist Fico, with Smer winning just 28.3% of the vote, securing no more than 49 of the 150 seats in parliament. The remainder of the Slovak political scene is highly fractured. Many suggest Kiska will still be forced to appoint a caretaker administration as he eyes Slovakia's EU presidency, which kicks off in July.

However, Fico now says he plans to draw up a list of parties that he believes are worth speaking to. "I'll approach them, and if they don't express interest in meeting me, I'll respect that," Fico said, according to TASR, "There aren't many alternatives," he added.

The far right Slovak National Party (SNS), viewed as the most likely partner for Smer ahead of the election, has announced it will only hold talks with the party commissioned by the president to form the government.

"Politicians would do well to act in accordance with the law," Chairman Andrej Danko said on March 8. "The constitution delineates a clear approach in this regard and that's what I'll abide by and honour." SNS negotiation topics will include strategic state enterprises, taxes, and the cancellation of a €148mn purchase of a radar system, he added.

Fico claims that neither the setting up of a caretaker government, nor snap elections would be appropriate solutions for Slovakia at the moment. "This would only deepen the chaos," the PM has claimed.