Slovak President Andrej Kiska appointed Peter Pellegrini of the ruling Smer-SD party to the post of prime minister on March 22. Subsequently, Kiska also appointed the remaining members of the new government.
Pellegrini’s government replaces that headed by Robert Fico (also of Smer-SD) after the political crisis caused by the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak in February. However, its manifesto has almost identical wording to the manifesto of Fico's former cabinet.
"The government that was appointed by the president today consists of exactly the same political parties that two years ago drew up the government manifesto and we want to meet the manifesto to the very end," Pellegrini told journalists on his arrival at the new cabinet's first session.
For Pellegrini, it was important to start working as soon as possible. “We need to get back to work immediately, this country has been slightly paralysed for three weeks. Otherwise, the government would waste its precious time by updating the passages that have already been met," said Pellegrini.
Pellegrini said he hopes to stabilise the country after the deep political crisis. "We'll do our best to make the Slovak Republic a successful country, a good place to live and a country we can be proud of. We will do anything we can to make this happen," stated the new prime minister.
Also crucial will be the changes in the leadership of the Slovak police. Pressure on the president of the police was mounting during the crisis. Doubts were raised when information leaked that during the examinations of the bodies of Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova, a pathologist and not a forensic examiner was called.
Gaspar was also criticised for the way he informed media and the public about the case, and for divulging unrelated speculations about the murder. He stopped after Jaromir Ciznar, the general procurator, put an information embargo on the case.
According to Kiska, the leadership of the police should change. Kiska added that newly appointed Interior Minister Tomas Drucker (a Smer-SD nominee) agreed with him.
“I want to meet police corps president Tibor Gaspar as soon as possible,” said Drucker. "The president made a statement and I made mine. I want to hold talks and I'm ready to be decisive. That's clear," added the new interior minister.
Kiska added that "a month has passed since the terrible murder. Over this month many strong words have been said about the state of our society, about the trust in institutions whose job it is to provide justice and protect the foundations of our state. Too many words have been said, but very little has been done to calm the atmosphere in society."
"We're standing here because the public's mistrust and outrage cannot be resolved with criticism, arrogance or by ignoring the suspicions that organised crime is at the highest places of Slovak politics,” Kiska stated.
Pellegrin needs not only to calm down the political arena but also the Slovakian public. He has some time to breathe, since the organisers of the For a Decent Slovakia protest movement, which attracted 50,000 people on March 9 and 65,000 protesters on March 16 in Bratislava alone, cancelled another rally planned for this Friday, March 23.
"Since the beginning, we have represented the voice of the people and we are proud of what it has achieved. Now we have come to the point from which we see that the following steps are dividing society, and from the civic position, we can say that there are actions that should take place in the streets and steps that should take place in parliament. There are moments that aren't easy, but that's what freedom, responsibility and decency are partly about. Decent people respect the Constitution," said the organisers.
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