Slovakia’s former coalition heads agree to early parliamentary elections

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PRAGUE   (Reuters) – Slovakia will hold early parliamentary elections on Sept. 30 after the leaders of the country’s previous coalition government agreed on a constitutional change to bring forward the vote from February 2024, Slovak news site Dennik N reported.

The party leaders moved in after an opposition referendum on holding an early election failed to attract enough voters on Saturday.

Only 27.3% of voters cast ballots, far below the absolute majority a referendum must attract to be valid, according to data from the Statistics Office.

An early election can be held in Slovakia if the constitution is changed to permit parliament’s four-year term to be shortened. Such a change of constitution would need approval by a referendum or by at least 90 votes in the 150-seat parliament.

The government of Prime Minister Eduard Heger has been ruling in a caretaking capacity after it lost a no-confidence vote in parliament in December.

Heger’s government, criticised for not doing enough to help people hit by soaring energy bills and inflation, fell in a no-confidence vote in December.

Its former ruling partner, the libertarian Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, had joined opposition parties in the motion to defeat the government, which was in a minority since SaS quit the coalition in September.

Heger had hoped to form a new majority and rule until the next election scheduled in February 2024, but SaS refused to negotiate, leaving him with few options to stay on.

Photo – Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger. EPA-EFE/Leszek Szymanski

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