BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Slovakia’s government is facing another serious crisis after a junior party threatened on Wednesday to withdraw from the four-party coalition over disagreements about how to deal with rising inflation.
The liberal Freedom and Solidarity party said it wasn't willing to be in the government anymore because of Finance Minister Igor Matovic, a populist leader whose Ordinary People party won the 2020 parliamentary election.
“Igor Matovic is the biggest problem of the coalition,” said Economy Minister Richard Sulik, the leader of Freedom and Solidarity.
Sulik has often clashed with Matovic, considered a populist politician, over how to tackle soaring inflation driven by high energy prices amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Freedom and Solidarity gave Prime Minister Eduard Heger a deadline until the end of August to reshuffle the Cabinet and rule without Matovic or its four ministers would resign.
Matovic’s Ordinary People party has rejected that option.
“Slovakia has been facing the hardest time in history,” Heger said. “This is not the time for the government to fall."
After winning the election on an anti-corruption ticket two years ago, Matovic struck a deal to govern with Freedom and Solidarity, the conservative For People party, and We Are Family, a populist right-wing group that is allied with France’s far-right National Rally party.
The government made the fight against corruption a key policy issue.
But amid the coronavirus pandemic last year, it collapsed as Matovic was forced to resign as prime minister after he orchestrated a secret deal to acquire 2 million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine despite disagreement among his coalition partners.
The same parties formed a new government with Heger, who is a close ally of Matovic’s and deputy head of his Ordinary People party, appointed as a new prime minister while Matovic assumed his previous post of finance minister in the new government.
The current Slovak government has been donating arms to Ukrainian armed forces while opening its border for the refugees.