Explainer: Slovak Government Falls After No-Confidence Vote

The vote of no confidence has caused a meltdown in Bratislava with speculations running rampant

16 December 2022

Matej Kandrík

Marcin Król Fellow

A turbulent week in Slovakia ends with a successful no-confidence vote against Eduard Heger’s minority government. The rocky situation has left Bratislava in political turmoil and some suggest it could undermine democracy itself.

After yesterday’s parliamentary session interruptions, 78 lawmakers out of the 102 present in the chamber supported the no-confidence vote. The vote of no confidence, which required the support of 76 of the 150 MPs to succeed, was originally scheduled to happen on Tuesday. The motion of no confidence was submitted by the former coalition party SaS. The party’s chairman Richard Sulik argued that the cabinet cannot solve people’s problems and that it has stopped fighting the mafia and corruption. The Hlas-SD party has also supported the notion.

Just before the no-confidence vote, in a dramatic gesture, the Finance Minister and OĽaNO’s chairman Igor Matovič offered his resignation to the SaS in exchange for averting the no-confidence vote and support for the draft of the state budget 2023. Igor Matovič – in person – first submitted his resignation, and in an unexpected turnaround, took it back at the Presidential Palace.

The decision for a non-confidence comes at a moment when the minority government struggles to find support for the draft of the 2023 state budget; a provisional budget would seriously limit the government’s options for mitigating energy prices, restricting expenses on railways, defence and the Recovery Fund as well as sink the fresh and fragile agreement with medical unions.

The Backstory of the No-confidence Vote

The current coalition crisis has been dragging on since summer. In September, SaS announced their withdrawal from the government as the leading coalition party OĽaNO refused SaS’s ultimatum to remove OĽaNO’s chairman, Igor Matovič, as the Minister of Finance.

The conflict between Igor Matovič and Richard Sulik has been highly personal since March 2021 when SaS and another coalition party Za ludi forced Igor Matovič from the prime minister seat over the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. In a recent public opinion poll, Matovič came as the least trusted member of the government, with only 11 per cent having trust while he was distrusted by 88 per cent.

Uncertain Future After the Vote of No-confidence

Slovakia is currently undergoing a turbulent political period.

On 29 November, President Čaputová spoke in the plenary session of the Slovak National Council with a report on the state of the Slovak Republic. Her speech was the most critical since she stepped into the presidential office. The head of state talked about healthcare, hybrid warfare, the energy crisis, deepening poverty and the threat of radicalisation of society. According to her, there is a danger that the political crisis will turn into a serious crisis of democracy.

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The President is a crucial actor after yesterday’s successful vote of no confidence in the government in the parliament. The president is obliged to dismiss such a government and entrust another with the country’s leadership. Temporarily also, the current government can be entrusted to be caretaker.

The new government, of course, needs to be supported by a majority in the current parliament. The possibility of an early election is now widely discussed in Slovakia. Such an option even if indirectly, was also mentioned in the president’s report on the state of the republic. But such a decision on early elections would require an amendment to the constitution, shortening the electoral period and would have to be supported by a constitutional majority in the parliament.

It is incredibly hard to predict the political situation in the future. At the beginning of the week, it seemed that the government would lose the no-confidence vote, meaning a governmental crisis among other ongoing crises. A few hours later the vote of no confidence was postponed by 2 days creating space for negotiations between the two parties. Hours before the vote, Heger was rumoured to be considering resigning, which would have led to the departure of the whole cabinet but would also have preserved more of the government’s powers.Last time, when the parliament successfully voted on non-confidence in 2011, the dismissed government suffered a major defeat in early elections, which brought the SMER-SD back to power with a constitutional majority.

Right now, it’s too early to predict how events might develop but many are warning that the opposition might reevaluate their current clear and straightforward support for Ukraine and their policy towards Russia as well as domestic attempts to fight corruption. All of these developments would challenge the foundations of Slovak democracy just at a time when multiple crises are unfolding, which means the chaos of the past several months is likely to continue for some time.




Featured Photo from “EPP Political Assembly, 17-18 November,” (CC BY 2.0) by More pictures and videos: connect@epp.eu.

Matej Kandrík

Marcin Król Fellow

Matej Kandrík is a Marcin Król Fellow 2022/2023 and a cofounder of Adapt Institute and a PhD candidate in Political Science with a specialisation in Security and Strategic Studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czechia. In 2016 he did a research stay at the National Defence University of Poland. He collaborated as a research fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the International Republican Institute as a Transatlantic Initiative fellow. Currently, he is participating in CEU Democratic Institute Leadership Academy. His research interests include comprehensive defence, paramilitarism in Central Eastern Europe and strategic communication.

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