BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Prime Minister Eduard Heger said Tuesday that he was creating a new centrist political party before Slovakia’s early election in September.
The name of the new party is the Democrats. The move means that Heger is leaving the Ordinary People political movement led by former populist Prime Minister Igor Matovič.
Heger’s announcement came after his coalition government lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote in December.
The opposition called the early vote following months of political crisis. President Zuzana Čaputová asked Heger’s Cabinet to stay in office with reduced powers as a caretaker government.
In January, the parliament set an early vote for Sept. 30. The opposition stands a good chance to win an early ballot, according to recent polls.
Heger’s government has been donating arms to Ukrainian armed forces while opening its border to refugees fleeing from Russia’s war.
Some current opposition leaders, including former populist Prime Minister Robert Fico, oppose military support for Ukraine and European Union sanctions against Russia.
Four ministers from Heger’s government, including Foreign Minister Rastislav Kacer and Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad, were also joining the Democrats.
“We offer professionalism and refuse populism,” Heger said. The non-parliamentary Together party has also become part of his Democrats.
Ordinary People won the 2020 parliamentary election with Matovič creating a four-party coalition government that collapsed the following year during the coronavirus pandemic. Matovič was forced to resign as prime minister after he orchestrated a secret deal to acquire 2 million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine despite disagreement among his coalition partners.
The same four parties formed a new government under Heger.