Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and his cabinet resigned on Thursday (15 March) in an attempt to ease the political crisis that ensued the murder of the investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée. President Andrej Kiska accepted the resignation and asked Peter Pellegrini, Mr. Fico’s deputy prime minister, to form a new government. The move is seen as a way out of the political crisis and an attempt to keep the current three-party coalition in power as well as to avoid early elections. The next regular parliamentary elections are due in 2020 and the current coalition has a majority in the 150-seat parliament.
“I’m sure that a decision to create a new government is the right step,” Mr. Fico said and added that “early elections would not bring any stability.” The resignation came in a response to the pressure on Mr. Fico’s cabinet over allegations of his inner circle’s ties to the Italian mafia and misuse of EU funds as well as the numerous anti-government protests demanding both government’s resignation and a thorough investigation of the killings of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova. In his last article that was published posthumously, Mr. Kuciak was writing about the alleged misuse of EU funds in Slovakia and potential links between organized crime groups and people close to Prime Minister Fico. In his earlier stories, Mr. Kuciak wrote about corruption scandals linked to Mr. Fico’s party ‘Smer’.
The European Parliament responded to the shooting of the journalist by urging EU investigation and further actions to protect journalists. MEPs called for an independent international investigation that would bring perpetrators to justice. The Parliament also insists on better rules at both national and EU level to ensure the safety of journalists and bloggers. MEPs also urged the EU Commission to again start publishing the annual EU anti-corruption report.