A display of hubris by Slovakian Prime Minister Igor Matovic over a controversial Russian coronavirus vaccine has cost him his job and shaken a reformist government in which many Slovaks had invested so much hope.
On April 1, Matovic resigned, just over a year after coming to power following an election victory billed as a political earthquake. He has stayed on as finance minister in a government now led by Eduard Heger, of Matovic’s Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party, in a neat job-swap that saved the four-party ruling coalition.
Matovic’s government had embarked upon tough judicial reforms and sought to tackle deep-rooted issues of state capture and corruption that were laid bare by the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, in 2018. The murders led to Slovakia’s biggest protests since the 1993 split from what was then Czechoslovakia, generating momentum for a movement seeking lasting change in the country. Coming to power just a year after the election of liberal President Zuzana Caputova in 2019, the Matovic government added to the sense that Slovakia might buck a regional trend toward authoritarianism and state capture.