Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was admitted to hospital in Bratislava on April 14 for an unscheduled heart examination, a day after the shaky government coalition agreed its four-year programme. The health scare saw the PM cancel his first official visit since managing to cobble together the new government in the wake of his Smer party's poor showing at the inconclusive March 5 election.
According to the hospital's head cardiologist for acute cases, the 51-year-old premier probably had a heart attack and will remain in hospital at least overnight for observation, television station TA3 reported. A deputy prime minister, as yet unnamed, will act as head of government in the meantime.
A weakened Fico, who is a strong figurehead, will not help ensure the stability of the new government, which is made up of disparate political forces stretching from centre left to far right. The PM has clearly been strained in recent weeks as he has scrambled to piece together a cabinet after Smer's surprising collapse in the March election. Many analysts say they expect the coalition to struggle to make it past a year.
Fico reportedly had canceled an appearance at a court hearing on April 12 citing health reasons, but attended the cabinet meeting at which the Smer-SD party leader agreed on the government manifesto. The PM was due on April 14 to meet his Czech counterpart, Bohuslav Sobotka, as well as Czech President Milos Zeman, to discuss cooperation on economic, security and other issues, as well as specific infrastructure projects.
A spokesperson said Fico had been admitted to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and was undergoing a cardiac assessment, but did not provide further details. TA3 said he arrived at the institute in his own car.
Heads of states and government from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which until 1994 comprised the state of Czechoslovakia, traditionally make their first official foreign trips after taking office to each other’s capitals. Although Fico is an incumbent prime minister, he heads a new government.
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