Slovak President Zuzana Caputova swore in a new coalition government led by Prime Minister Eduard Heger on Thursday to end the month-long political crisis that has plagued the country prompted by a secret deal to buy Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines.
Caputova appointed the new Cabinet led by Heger two days after the previous government of Igor Matovic resigned, reported The Associated Press (AP).
It was the first European government to collapse due to its handling of the pandemic but the move kept the same four-party coalition in power and avoided the possibility of an early election.
"I believe there will be accord and unity among us, because the clean-up of Slovakia still continues," Heger said, according to Reuters.
The crisis erupted when a secret deal came to light a month ago involving Slovakia’s agreement to acquire 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
The populist prime minister orchestrated the deal despite disagreement among his coalition partners. Two of them, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and For People (Za ľudi), demanded his resignation in order for the coalition to survive. Caputova echoed the sentiments of those calling for Matovic's resignation last week.
The crisis paralyzed the government in one of the hardest-hit European Union countries. The nation of 5.4 million has registered 9,790 deaths, according to AP.
Heger, 44, who is a close ally of Matovic and deputy head of his Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) party, served as the finance minister and deputy prime minister in the previous government.
Matovic is assuming those posts in the new government and besides that swap, the government has a new health minister and no immediate labor and social affairs minister, who is expected to be appointed later. The rest remains the same.
After winning the parliamentary election on an anti-corruption ticket, Matovic struck a deal a year ago to govern with the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party; the conservative For People, a party established by former President Andrej Kiska; and We Are Family (Sme Rodina), a populist right-wing group that is allied with France’s far-right National Rally party.
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