Education sector needs money.
The non-partisan appointee said she is confident she can contribute to the education sector even though she has less than a year to go before the next general elections.
Mikulová, a private school principal in the western Slovak town of Holíč, was nominated by an independent coalition group led by Ľubomír Lintner, a former deputy chairman of the New Citizen's Alliance (ANO).
The ANO, a former coalition member, continues under the leadership of Pavol Rusko. The ANO left the government for the opposition after Rusko was ousted as economy minister over a financial scandal that left the chairman's political career in tatters.
When Lintner and several other ANO members refused to leave the coalition government, the ANO expelled them. Consequently, the splinter group has remained in the coalition as the ANO's successor. Based on a coalition agreement, they are entitled to fill the ministerial posts originally assigned to the ANO.
For Mikulová, the deputy ministerial post marks her first time in top politics.
"I believe I will be a valid member of the cabinet, one who will help the Slovak education system," the new deputy education minister said after her nomination approval.
Mikulová is officially responsible for science and research at the Education Ministry. One of her priorities is to help transform the educational curricula.
The former principal takes over from František Tóth, who left the post six months ago, in June 2005, to become Slovakia's culture minister.
Among Tóth's reasons for leaving were disagreements with Education Minister Martin Fronc.
Mikulová says she is not afraid of Fronc.
"I am not worried about controversial relations. At our initial meeting we interacted as profes-sionals," she said.
More posts to fill
With several ministerial vacancies to fill, the Lintner group is busy looking for appropriate candidates.
Among the vacancies is the position of deputy transport minister. This seat became vacant after the acting minister, the ANO's Vladimír Menich, stepped down in solidarity with Rusko.
Another seat the Lintner group is entitled to fill is that of the deputy health minister. Alexandra Novotná recently stepped down for unknown reasons.
It is possible that Lintner's group will swap this seat for the seat of deputy labour minister. Lintner told the Pravda daily, "We want to be there [at the Labour Ministry] in regards to social reform and the changes that the Labour Minister [Iveta Radičová] is planning."
Lintner was not available to tell The Slovak Spectator how his group would fill the vacancies. Political analyst Grigorij Mesežnikov, head of the Institute for Public Affairs, said it is difficult to say whether Linter's group even had access to qualified experts.
"Their right to fill the posts, however, is absolutely justified. It is part of an agreement signed by the governing coalition," he told The Slovak Spectator.
Paradoxically, the Lintner group has a right to fill the same amount of ministerial seats as another ruling party, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), which has been a long-term, stable part of the right-wing government.
It seems, however, that none of the ruling partners, including the KDH, is interested in challenging the group's right to its number of seats.
"[Such a challenge] would be a major destabilizing factor. The ruling partners, including the KDH, now definitely favour stability over re-proportioning ministerial seats between coalition members," said the analyst.
19. Dec 2005 at 0:00 | Martina Jurinová