This is the Wednesday, March 3, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes. If you like what we are doing and want to support good journalism, buy our online subscription. Thank you.
Sputnik causes coalition crisis
Igor Matovič may leave his prime ministerial seat after just a year in post.
The March 1 press conference at the Košice airport, at which he greeted a military plane carrying a batch of Sputnik V vaccines, has outraged his coalition partners so much that some have discussed the end of the ruling coalition.
These statements come particularly from the representatives of the Za Ľudí and Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) parties, who have opposed the procurement and the use of Sputnik V in Slovakia. The two parties held separate sessions on Tuesday night in order to propose solutions to the coalition crisis.
The coalition now has the support of 93 MPs; without Za Ľudí and SaS they would lose the majority (76 seats) in the 150-strong house.
Another coalition partner, Boris Kollár, invited his coalition partners for a discussion that should take place today, at 17:00, to discuss the current situation.
“Stop acting like children in a sandpit,” he told the press conference.
No snap election, but reshuffles necessary
SaS chair Richard Sulík said following the cabinet session that reshuffles needed to be seriously discussed because "it cannot go on like this any longer", and suggested the changes needed to go deeper than just the exchange of the health minister. He anticipated long and tough negotiations.
The representatives of Za Ľudí and SaS met with President Zuzana Čaputová later in the afternoon, discussing the current situation in the coalition and the potential government reshuffles.
Čaputová commented that she has been communicating the need to change the style of ruling and some self-reflection of the government for some time now. She was surprised by how similar the two parties were in their views on how this change should be made.
"I wish this accord was among the representatives of all four coalition parties," she added.
"We don't want a snap election," Sulík said after meeting with the president, stressing that the reshuffles do not have to necessarily lead to an election, which was proven in 2018 when the Robert Fico cabinet was replaced by the Peter Pellegrini cabinet following the death of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová. "We see the cabinet reshuffles as a solution to improve the current situation."
It is important that the cabinet starts dealing with the problems of people, rather than people dealing with the problems of the cabinet, stressed Za Ľudí chair Veronika Remišová after the meeting. There should be a certain culture of ruling "so that the country is governed effectively," she added.
They are now expected to attend the coalition council meeting and provide more details afterward.
New rules in force
Starting today, Slovakia starts following new, stricter measures approved by the cabinet on February 28.
This includes new rules for the curfew which, among other things, impacts the opening hours of shops. Shops now close at 20:00.
Originally, kindergartens and grades one through four of primary schools were supposed to stay open starting on Wednesday for students with parents who cannot work at home, but the Education Ministry decided later to start applying the new rules next Monday, March 8.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry updated the map of districts, putting more of them in the black tier from next Monday.
Coronavirus- and vaccination-related developments
- Altogether 3,357 out of 15,111 PCR tests carried out on March 2 came back positive, which represents 22.22 percent. Of antigen tests, 2,817 of 154,772 tests (or 1.82 percent) were positive.
- Slovakia has become a country with the highest number of official Covid-related deaths per capita in the world in 2021 so far, with the number increasing by 228 percent compared to 2020. (Our World in Data)
- Slovakia is set to receive 100,000 more vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech in March, PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) announced on Facebook.
- The vaccination of teachers has stopped, as they exhausted all 40,000 vaccine doses allocated for this purpose. Another reason is the recent change in vaccination strategy that gives preference to older people again.
- The State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) received 1,157 reports on side effects after vaccination, 44 of which were serious. The institute checks mostly on those vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. In several cases, those who received this vaccine had to rest and take some days off of work.
Some travel advice
- Recreational travel to and from Belgium has been banned from Saturday, February 27, until further notice. People travelling from the country are required to show a statement confirming the journey is necessary, while those arriving in Belgium have to fill in a Passenger Locator Form.
Picture of the day:
Feature story for today:
The state-owned facility that handles radioactive waste, Jadrová a Vyraďovacia Spoločnosť (Nuclear and Decommissioning Company), JAVYS, incinerates radioactive waste (RAW) generated by Slovak facilities, but also from abroad, for example from the closed nuclear power plant in Caorso, Italy.
The Economy Ministry, under which JAVYS operates, has considered this a good business opportunity Slovakia should not miss, but activists, thousands of people from the area around Jaslovské Bohunice and the Environment Ministry are in opposition.
Read more in a story by Jana Liptáková.
In other news
- The National Criminal Agency (NAKA) has brought charges against Marian Kočner, Peter Tóth, Miroslav Kriak, Štefan Mlynarčík and Juraj Škrip in relation to the surveillance of journalists.
- The police have accused a Serbian citizen of preparing the murder of current General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka. (Aktuality.sk)
- Judge Roman Púchovský has approved the plea bargain of ex-judge Pavol Polka, detained in the Plevel (Weeds) police operation, based on which Polka needs to pay €150,000. Otherwise, he will spend three years in prison.
- Although the defence spending will drop in 2021, Slovakia still wants to gradually increase it to 2 percent of GDP in 2024, as stems from the National Plan of Slovakia’s Performance in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) approved by the cabinet.
- The Antimonopoly Office approved the acquisition of shares in the ČEZ SK company, focused on retail electricity and natural gas supplies, by the Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) gas utility in the second half of February. The decision came into force on February 24.
- The fewest companies in the past decade ceased to exist in Slovakia last year, despite closed shops and the limited possibilities of companies to develop their business due to the pandemic. Altogether 3,690 firms closed their business in 2020, which represents 1.2 percent of all firms in the market, according to the Bisnode and Dun & Bradstreet Company data.
More on Spectator.sk today: