By Robert Muller and Jason Hovet
Dec 15 (Reuters) – Slovakia’s minority government lost a no-confidence vote on Thursday despite last-ditch efforts to gain support, raising political instability in the country as it seeks to battle soaring energy prices and help a weakening economy.
The no-confidence motion was passed by 78 lawmakers in the 150-seat parliament. The vote will not mean the immediate change of the government, although it could open the path to early elections.
Holding an election before the scheduled date in 2024, which would need wider support in parliament, could affect Slovakia’s support for neighbouring Ukraine, particularly if it brings to power the leftist opposition, which currently leads opinion polls and is critical of military aid to Kyiv.
Prime Minister Eduard Hegeris due to hand in his resignation to the president, who will task the government to continue in a care-taking capacity with limited powers until a new government is appointed.
Heger’s coalition took power in 2020 but lost its majority in September when the libertarian SaS party quit the ruling coalition in a row with the ruling OLANO party.
SaS joined a leftist opposition party in bringing the no-confidence vote, accusing the government of not helping people cope with the higher energy costs.
The political clash since SaS’s exit from government has prevented support for Heger’s 2023 budget plan, which includes spending to offset energy prices.
The head of the ruling OLANO party, Igor Matovic, had earlier on Thursday offered to quit as finance minister if SaS withdrew its no-confidence motion against the government and backed its budget plans.
But SaS rejected the deal, calling the government’s fall inevitable.
“For half a year we have witnessed constant chaos and an unacceptable style of governance. This government does not deserve our trust,” SaS chairman Richard Sulik said.
(Reporting by Jason Hovet and Robert Muller in Prague; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Frances Kerry and Josie Kao)