Political crisis in Slovakia derails fight against COVID-19 

The incumbent coalition government in Slovakia is mired in a political crisis over disagreements on the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia, even as the country faces an acute COVID-19 crisis

March 27, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Political Crisis-Slovakia
Prime minister of Slovakia, Igor Matovic. (Photo: Facebook)

The incumbent right-wing coalition government in Slovakia is facing a political crisis over disagreements on the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia. As of March 26, six cabinet ministers have resigned from the four-party coalition cabinet led by prime minister Igor Matovic. Due to political pressure, Matovic reportedly offered his resignation but put forward certain conditions to make way for new leadership in the cabinet and settle the problems within the coalition. Progressive sections have criticized the incompetence and crisis within the coalition government and blamed it for derailing the fight against COVID-19 in the country.

The cabinet comprises four parties: the pro-EU Ordinary People (OL’aNO) party, right-wing SME Rodina, the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, and the centrist For the People. It will finish one year in power this month. However, Matovic’s secret purchase of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia – yet to be approved for use in Slovakia by the European Medicines Agency – has irked his coalition partners and created a political crisis in the country.

Meanwhile, progressive sections in Slovakia have criticized the coalition parties for incompetence and irresponsible behavior amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 355,454 cases and 9,373 deaths had been reported in Slovakia as of March 26. Only 4.45% of the population had received full doses of the COVID-19 by March 24.

Jozef Hrdlicka, chairman of the Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS), has said, “at the forefront of politics today are incumbent parties’ own egos, to the satisfaction of which they subordinate everything, the entire Slovak society, even the health and lives of people.”

“Their rule permanently confirms their incompetence, incompleteness, arrogance of power and the absence of any feeling and compassion for the population of Slovakia, including the social and patriotic one,” he added.

Arture Bekmatov, leader of Socialisti.sk, told Junge Welt that the only thing the coalition parties could agree on at the moment was to not give up on their power or hold fresh elections. “The situation is dramatic: key ministries are in the middle of the pandemic without leadership. The state is on the verge of collapse at the central level,” he said.