(Reuters) – Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said he would start discussions on holding early elections after his attempt to find a majority in parliament following a lost no-confidence vote failed.
The European Union and NATO member country’s government lost the no-confidence vote in December after its former ruling partner, the libertarian Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, joined opposition parties to defeat the cabinet.
Heger tried to cobble together a new majority in the increasingly fractious 150-seat parliament, where a number of parties saw defections in recent months, but threw in the towel after the SaS rejected negotiations on Tuesday.
“With today, I consider all attempts to establish a new 76 (majority) to be closed,” Heger said in an emailed statement.
He said he would invite political leaders of his former coalition for talks on Wednesday on holding polls later this year, before a regular election due in February 2024.
“At the moment, an autumn (election) date looks the most realistic,” Heger said.
Opinion polls have given the opposition, including the Smer party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico, a lead over current government parties.
Fico has spoken against weapons supplies to Ukraine, marking a potential change in the NATO country’s stance on the Russian invasion of Slovakia’s neighbour.
SaS left Heger’s government in September after disputes with ruling party OLANO’s leader, Igor Matovic, who has since resigned as finance minister.
Matovic’s exit helped win SaS’s support to approve a 2023 budget at the end of December.
But Matovic remains the head of OLANO, built as an anti-corruption movement with a strong Catholic and social-conservative faction.
Heger has since indicated he may split from the party to try to build a wider centre-right platform, Slovak media have reported in the past days.
Photo – Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger . EPA-EFE/Leszek Szymanski