Igor Matovič will stay put as finance minister, the leadership and the parliamentary caucus of his OĽaNO movement have announced, in what they labelled a final decision that will not change.
OĽaNO is thus essentially disregarding the ultimatum issued by its coalition partner Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) in early July. SaS, which has four ministers in the cabinet of Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO), said it would leave the government and the ruling coalition unless Matovič resigned as finance minister by the end of August.
“Igor Matovič won the election. He received a mandate to put together a coalition for this election term. He is the leader of the party with the most MPs in the house. OĽaNO wants to fulfil the promises it gave people in the election,” the movement stated.
The leaders of the four coalition parties are set to meet on Friday afternoon, but observers are sceptical about their chances of finding common ground. Sme Rodina and Za Ľudí insist that they want the four-party coalition to continue until the end of the current parliament, in March 2024.
OĽaNO and SaS representatives say they would prefer that too, but admit that the way things are going, Slovakia will have a minority government as of September 1. SaS ministers are expected to quit on that date if their demand for Matovič’s departure as minister is not met.
If SaS leaves the government and three of its ministers return to parliament (the fourth, Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok, was not elected as an MP), the party caucus will have 21 MPs. The three remaining coalition parties would then command fewer than the 76 votes needed for a majority in the house, and would have to rely on opposition votes to be able to pass laws.
"Only laws with the support of SaS as opposition will be passed, or alternatively with the support of Hlas [of Peter Pellegrini]," political analyst Grigorij Mesežnikov noted in an interview with the Sme daily.