Slovak government's fate may hang on vote of a single lawmaker

  • World
  • Tuesday, 13 Dec 2022

FILE PHOTO: Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger listens during a news conference in Tallinn, Estonia November 11, 2022. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

(Reuters) - Slovakia's minority government might have its fate decided by one independent lawmaker on Tuesday when the parliament is due to vote on a no-confidence motion.

The fractured centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Eduard Heger, ruling in minority since September, is facing the vote as most of the independents it has been relying on since losing its majority have expressed their intention to oust the government.

Analysts have said any change in government could affect the EU member's support for neighbouring Ukraine, particularly if there is a victory for the leftist opposition which has criticised providing Kyiv with military equipment.

The opposition must secure at least 76 votes in the 150-seat parliament to bring Heger's government down. Local media pinned the outcome on an independent, formerly from a far-right faction, whose vote may tip the balance either way.

Slavena Vorobelova said she has decided, but would declare her intention only on Tuesday morning ahead of the vote.

The voting procedure is scheduled for 1000 GMT.

Opposition groups - including the libertarian SaS party that quit Heger's coalition in September - brought the no confidence motion as they accused his government of doing too little to help people cope with soaring energy costs.

SaS left the government after months of clashes between its chairman and former Economy Minister Richard Sulik, and Finance Minister Igor Matovic, who is also Heger's party chief.

Heger has said his government should stay in place so that it can lead the country through this difficult time, pointing out that energy prices will jump for many households in January as their fixed tariffs expire at the end of the year.

Several parties have been pushing for an election next year, ahead of the plan for February 2024, if the cabinet falls, or as the price for keeping it in power until then.

If the government loses the no-confidence motion, it would stay in office until President Zuzana Caputova appoints another cabinet, but its powers would be limited. That could curb its ability to help people hit by the soaring energy bills.

The parliament is also due to vote on 2023 state budget on Tuesday, but senior lawmakers said the bill would be most likely postponed should the government fall.

If the budget is not approved in time, the government would be forced into provisional financing - another potential obstacle to helping with the cost of living.

(Reporting by Robert Muller in Prague; Editing by Alison Williams)

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