Slovakia gets technocratic caretaker government until September's early election

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova swore in on Monday a government of technocrats to lead the country to snap elections in September amid a political crisis.

Ludovit Odor, the the former deputy governor of the central bank and a respected economist, will head the 15-member Cabinet. Career diplomat Miroslav Wlachovsky becomes the foreign minister, with Martin Sklenar, a former senior defense ministry official, as the defense minister.

Odor, who comes from Slovakia's Hungarian minority, is not affiliated with any political party. No member of his government will run in the forthcoming election.

“We won't work miracles but you can expect us to ensure the proper functioning of the state,” Odor said.

Slovakia has been without a proper government since Dec. 15, when the coalition government led by Prime Minister Eduard Heger lost a vote of no confidence in parliament called by the opposition, following months of political crisis.

Caputova initially asked Heger to lead a caretaker government until early elections could take place. However, after four members of the caretaker administration gradually left their posts, Heger offered his resignation and Caputova opted for a government of technocrats.

Odor's government has to face a confidence vote in Parliament within 30 days.

Caputova said that in its limited time, the new government should focus on stabilizing the current situation in the country, preparing next year's budget for the next year and lead Slovakia to the early elections set for Sept 30.

Heger's government was a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its fight against Russian military aggression and gave the Ukrainian armed forces the arms they requested, such as 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets and the S-300 air defense system.

Some current opposition leaders, including former populist Prime Minister Robert Fico, oppose military support for Ukraine and European Union sanctions against Russia.

Fico and his Smer-Social Democracy leftist party are the favorites to win the upcoming election, according to recent polls.