Can Slovakia’s Incoming Government Tackle an Entrenched ‘Mafia State’?

Can Slovakia’s Incoming Government Tackle an Entrenched ‘Mafia State’?
Slovakia’s incoming prime minister, Igor Matovic, arrives for an interview a day after the general election, in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 1, 2020 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

After a surprise victory in Slovakia’s parliamentary elections late last month, the enigmatic Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party, known as OLANO, will lead a diverse majority coalition in the legislature. President Zuzana Caputova is scheduled to swear in the new government on March 21.

Many Slovaks have welcomed the change after the nationalist and populist Smer party governed the small eastern European country for most of the past 14 years, with increasingly authoritarian tendencies. OLANO has pledged to clean up the “Mafia state” that allegedly flourished under Smer, following an election that was overshadowed by mass protests over the brutal murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée in 2018.

Marian Kocner, the oligarch accused of ordering the hit, allegedly spent years bribing and blackmailing senior political figures, as well as members of the judiciary and police. Just last week, authorities arrested 18 people, including 13 judges, in relation to the investigation into Kuciak’s murder.

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