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New Slovak government wins confidence vote

March 27, 2018

The Slovak parliament has approved a new government under Peter Pellegrini, whose predecessor quit after a journalist's murder sparked mass protests. Pellegrini has promised to keep Slovakia on a pro-EU path.

Peter Pellegrini
Image: Reuters/D. W Cerny

A reshuffled Slovak government led by the new prime minister, Peter Pellegrini (above), won a parliamentary vote of confidence on Monday, as hundreds protested outside in the capital, Bratislava.

"We will do everything possible to ensure that honest people can live well and that those who commit crimes will be punished," said Pellegrini, the former deputy prime minister, whose center-left party Smer-SD has been battling to avoid early elections since the crisis broke three weeks ago.

Eighty-one lawmakers in the 150-seat assembly voted in favor of the new cabinet, which keeps most of the same people from the previous administration of Robert Fico.

Fico stepped down following protests triggered by the killings of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova a month ago.

Read more: Opinion — Fico's resignation just for show

President Andrej Kiska swore in a new cabinet last Thursday, made up of the same three parties from Fico's government: the ethnic Hungarian centrist Most-Hid party and center-right Slovak National Party.

Ahead of Monday's vote, Pellegrini said he hoped the approval of the new team — including a non-partisan figure in the key role of interior minister — from the three-party coalition would "end the torment in Slovakia" and restore stability.

The new government will continue to implement the manifesto approved by the previous government in April 2016, he added, in particular the goal of reaching a balanced budget by 2020.

Crisis over journalist's murder in Slovakia

Pellegrini: Fico puppet?

Some believe Fico will continue to operate from behind the scenes as he remains chairman of Smer-SD.

Prime minister for 10 of the last 12 years, Fico resigned amid protests and calls for an early election. He passed the three-party ruling coalition to Pellegrini, whose appointment last week triggered mass protests across the small central European country and calls for snap elections.

Police said Monday that Kuciak and Kusnirova's deaths were "most likely" connected to Kuciak's investigation into alleged ties between senior Slovak politicians and Italy's 'ndrangheta mafia.

Pellegrini called the killings "an attack on freedom of speech" and said his government "will do everything to investigate this abominable act."
The killings have highlighted issues of corruption and media freedom in the EU member country of 5.4 million.

Rampant corruption spooking investors?

jbh/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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