BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) – The new Slovakian government formed after a secret deal to buy Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine triggered a political crisis won a mandatory confidence vote in Parliament on Tuesday.
Lawmakers voted 89-55 to endorse the four-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Eduard Heger.
President Zuzana Caputova appointed the new Cabinet on April 1 after the government of populist Prime Minister Igor Matovic resigned, becoming the first European government to collapse due to its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The new Cabinet kept the same four-party coalition in power and avoided the possibility of an early election.
Matovic orchestrated a deal to acquire 2 million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine despite disagreement among his coalition partners. The secret deal came to light in early March.
Two parties, Freedom and Solidarity and For People, demanded the prime minister’s resignation to keep the coalition – which holds a comfortable parliamentary majority – alive.
The crisis paralyzed the government in Slovakia at a time when the country was one of the European Union members hardest hit by the virus. The nation of 5.4 million has reported 11,855 virus-related deaths.
Heger, who is a close ally of Matovic’s and deputy head of his Ordinary People party, served as the finance minister and deputy prime minister in the previous government. Matovic assumed those posts in the new government.
After winning the parliamentary election on an anti-corruption ticket, Matovic struck a deal a year ago to govern with the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party; the conservative For People, and We Are Family, a populist right-wing group that is allied with France’s far-right National Rally party.
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