Former Slovak coalition party starts no-confidence vote against government

Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger listens during a news conference in Tallinn, Estonia November 11, 2022. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Dec 1 (Reuters) - A former Slovak ruling coalition partner initiated on Thursday a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Eduard Heger's minority government, calling it "harmful" for the country.

The libertarian SaS party left Heger's government in September after months of clashes between its chairman, former Economy Minister Richard Sulik, and the coalition's main party chief Igor Matovic, who is also the finance minister.

The motion poses a threat to Heger's government, and comes after SaS blamed the administration for failing to do enough on reining in energy and other prices.

"This government lost the reason to exist. The government is harmful for Slovakia, for the whole country. Its every action brings fiasco, shame, and more division of society," Sulik said in a statement streamed online.

With SaS out, the EU and NATO country's government, which has supported Ukraine in the war with Russia and has delivered military equipment to its neighbour, lost a majority in the 150-seat parliament.

Sulik said that although his party supported a number of the government's bills after its departure, it would not continue to do so.

The no-confidence vote may complicate approving the 2023 state budget, where the final vote is due on Dec. 9.

Failure to approve the budget in time would force Slovakia to start next year with a provisional budget, limiting the government's ability to spend on some initiatives.

If the government falls, a new coalition could be created, or President Zuzana Caputova could try to form a caretaker government, or the parties could agree on a path to early elections.

A new majority coalition being put together now is unlikely given the divisions in parliament. Holding an early election would require changes to the constitution, a major hurdle given they would need to be approved by a qualified majority in parliament.

The next election is due in February 2024.

Reporting by Robert Muller in Prague, editing by Deepa Babington

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