Slovak Cabinet Wins Confidence Vote as Street Protests Persist

(Bloomberg) -- Slovakia’s lawmakers endorsed a new cabinet whose appointment sought to avert early elections after the country’s largest anti-government demonstrations since the fall of communism.

The three ruling parties need to restore public trust in state institutions that was shaken during a month of political turbulence following the murder of a reporter investigating crime with political links. Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini replaced Robert Fico who resigned halfway into his third term amid pressure from protesters demanding snap ballot in the European Union nation of 5.4 million.

The new administration secured support from 81 lawmakers in a confidence motion late on Monday, with 61 voting against. Two members of the 150-seat parliament abstained and six didn’t vote. Protests continued before the confidence vote, with several hundred people gathering outside parliament in capital Bratislava as the assembly debated the cabinet’s future.

"I consider the appointment of the government to be an important milestone, which should end the unrest in Slovakia and rebuild stability,” Pellegrini told lawmakers before the vote.

Pellegrini, 42, has been a lawmaker for the ruling Smer party since 2006 in a career that includes stints as education minister, parliamentary speaker and deputy premier. He is viewed as a member of a progressive, liberal wing within the party and has pledged to maintain the country’s pro-integration posture as well as fiscal prudence.

Most of Pellegrini’s ministers have been in Fico’s previous cabinet, prompting criticism from the opposition and civic leaders that the reshuffle was insufficient and that Fico will retain his grip on power through his leadership of the Smer party.

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