Slovak president to appoint Fico’s cabinet
Slovak President Zuzana Caputova will appoint populist leftist leader Robert Fico’s cabinet on Wednesday, October 25.
Fico could attend the upcoming EU leaders' summit at the end of this week as the country’s prime minister. Fico’s Smer party formed a coalition with leftist Hlas and the rightwing SNS following Smer’s victory in the September 30 snap elections.
Last week, Caputova turned down the nominee for minister of the environment, climate change denier and pro-Kremlin conspiracy theorist Rudolf Huliak, who was backed by the SNS.
“A candidate who does not recognise the scientific consensus about climate change and according to whom, there is no real climate change, cannot lead and represent a ministry whose main task, as inscribed in law, is to protect the nature and the Earth’s climate system,” Caputova stated.
However, Fico’s incoming cabinet includes other controversial nominees such as the disinformation platform TV Slovan presenter Martina Simkovicova, who is to head the Ministry of Culture, and Fico’s right hand Robert Kalinak, who faces criminal charges, who will head the Ministry of Defence.
Huliak himself was replaced by Tomas Taraba, who is also known for spreading conspiracies and disinformation and who was a deputy in the previous parliament after being elected on the list of neofascist L’SNS. Taraba also headed the Christian fundamentalist Zivot [Life] party and was elected on the SNS list to the new parliament.
A commentator at the liberal online news outlet Aktuality.sk, Martin Behul, stated that while Caputova succeeded in preventing Huliak from taking charge of the environmental portfolio, the ultimate winner of the standoff over the cabinet lineup is Fico.
“Caputova could have rejected the second round” nominee Tabara, but “in practice her duty is to secure the functionality of the government” and her respect for election results could have been questioned, Behul wrote. There is not much Caputova could do to contain the damage the ministries of culture and environment will face under their incoming ministers, he argued.
Last week, Fico made it clear he wants to attend the October 26-27 EU summit as Slovakia’s PM.
Both Smer and Hlas were suspended from the Party of European Socialists (PES) grouping of socialist parties, and Fico has continued with his inflammatory rhetoric reminiscent of Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orban. He stated he is “proud” of the PES suspension if the reason is his “rejecting of gender ideology”.
SNS’ leader Andrej Danko stated that the parties in the coalition are bound together by “Christian nationalist policy”.
Fico has relentlessly employed anti-immigration rhetoric and has vowed to protect Slovak national interests.
Analysts and commentators also expect Fico to turn his immediate focus to the police, judiciary and anti-corruption NGOs. Several Smer party members and officials face criminal investigations related to Smer’s 2010s era in power, and worries abound that if Fico meddles with the police and judiciary, his cabinet could be on course to clash with Brussels over rule of law issues.
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