The four parties negotiating the formation of a new government in Slovakia have reached an agreement, Prime Minister Robert Fico announced on March 16.
The deal appears to put an end to the political deadlock stemming from the inconclusive March 5 general election, although there are still details being ironed out, it seems. It hands Fico's Smer party a second consecutive term leading the country, and appears to avert the need for early elections, a scenario that could well have caused more chaos. However, there are signficant questions over the stability of the coming government.
Even before the coalition deal was sealed, defections from the smaller parties - the Hungarian minority backed Most-Hid, and the centre-right Siet - have raised doubts. It's a particularly sensitive issue given Slovakia will take over the EU Council presidency in the second half of 2016.
"I'll submit the agreement to President Andrej Kiska as soon as possible, so that we will enable him to set a date for the inaugural parliament session," Fico said, according to TASR news agency. The PM will have enjoyed that statement; Kiska handed the populist just ten days to seal a deal on March 9.
Following negotiations, it has been agreed that Smer, which won 49 seats in parliament, will retain the post of prime minister, which will give Robert Fico his third term overall as premier. Smer will also take the vice-premiership for investment, the interior ministry, finance ministry, foreign affairs, health, economy, culture and labour ministries.
SNS, which won 15 seats in the parliament, will run the defence ministry, education and agriculture. Most-Hid, with 11 seats, will appoint the justice and environment ministers. Siet, which won 10 seats, gets transportation. Talks on the details are expected to continue on March 17.
“Under normal circumstances, this could not be a government,” Grigorij Meseznikov, president of the Institute for Public Affairs in Bratislava, told bne IntelliNews recently. “The first justification for this strange mix is the EU presidency and the second is that it is as a bulwark against extremism,” referencing the strong performance by Marian Kotleba’s extreme rightwing People’s Party-Our Slovakia (LSNS). “The government has the potential to be stable for a year or so,” he suggests.
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