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Slovakia’s coalition in crisis over tackling high inflation

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AFP) – Slovakia’s government faces another serious crisis after a small party threatened on Wednesday to quit its four-party coalition over disagreements over how to deal with rising inflation.

The Liberal Solidarity and Freedom Party said it no longer wanted to stay in the government because of Finance Minister Igor Matovic, the populist leader whose ‘Ordinary People’ party won the 2020 parliamentary elections.

“Igor Matovich is the coalition’s biggest problem,” said Economy Minister Richard Sollick, Leader of Freedom and Solidarity.

Solik often clashed with Matovich, who is considered a populist politician, over how to tackle high inflation due to rising energy prices amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine..

Freedom and Solidarity gave Prime Minister Eduard Heger until the end of August to reshuffle and govern without Matovic or her four ministers resigning.

Matovic’s “Ordinary People” party rejected this option.

“Slovakia was facing the most difficult time in history,” Heger said. “This is not the time for the government to fall.”

After winning elections on an anti-corruption ticket two years ago, Matovic struck a deal to govern with the Freedom and Solidarity Party, a conservative party for the People, and We Are Family, a populist right-wing group allied to France’s far-right. National Rally Party.

The government has made anti-corruption a major political issue.

But amid last year’s coronavirus pandemic, it collapsed as Matovic was forced to resign as prime minister after he hatched a secret deal to get two million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine despite a rift between his coalition partners.

The same parties formed a new government with Heger, a close ally of Matovic and vice-chairman of his Ordinary People’s Party, who was appointed as the new prime minister while Matovic took over his previous position as finance minister in the new government.

The current Slovak government was donating arms to the Ukrainian armed forces while opening its borders to refugees.

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