New government, Fico lurking in the background
President Andrej Kiska appointed the new Peter Pellegrini government on Thursday. The departing Prime Minister, Robert Fico, in power for ten of the past 12 years, was forced to resign because of a high degree of public distrust. The majority of Slovaks are convinced that his party and government have such strong links to oligarchs and the mafia that they are unable to properly investigate the murder of investigative reporter Ján Kuciak. The key role of new PM Peter Pellegrini and Interior Minister Tomáš Drucker is to help Slovaks regain trust in the state.
The new government’s manifesto is identical to the one from 2016. It even includes plans for Slovakia’s EU presidency in the second half of 2016. Parliament will discuss it today.
Pellegrini decided not to use the services of Erik Tomáš, a long-time Robert Fico’s spin doctor. Tomáš will continue to serve as Fico’s advisor. He aspired to the job of Culture Ministry, but was unacceptable to artists.
Slovakia joined Poland and Romania in having a strong party leader and expendable prime ministers. Liviu Dragnea, head of the ruling party in Romania, has already replaced two PMs since 2015, when they became too independent. He can’t be PM himself due to his suspended sentence for abuse of power. His key agenda is changes in the judiciary, as he faces corruption charges and wants to avoid jail time. Jaroslaw Kaczyński, leader of the Polish ruling party PiS, has replaced one PM since 2015. He is also trying to reform the judiciary.