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2018 Crisis - Peter Pellegrini

Slovakia's prime minister, Robert Fico, resigned 15 March 2018 after more than two weeks of political turmoil and public protests sparked by the killing of an investigative journalist. The country's president, Andrej Kiska, asked Fico's deputy, Peter Pellegrini, to form a new government. The resignation followed Slovakia's largest protests since the anti-communist Velvet Revolution of 1989. Tens of thousands of Slovaks joined anti-government protests across the country to demand a thorough investigation in the shooting deaths of reporter Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend, Martina Kusnirova. Fico had accused President Andrej Kiska, as well as implicitly accusing hundreds of thousands of angry citizens who demanded his resignation, of being Hungarian billionaire George Soros' puppets.

At the time of his death last month, Kuciak, 27, had been writing about ties between the Italian organized-crime group known as the 'Ndrangheta and individuals close to Fico. The government of Slovakia has offered a $1.2 million reward for information about the killings. Fico vowed to remain in politics as the active leader of his Smer party. The unsolved killing fueled public anger over corruption and threatened to bring down the coalition before the party leaders agreed to a change of guard. Protest leaders released a statement saying that the governing coalition, including the Smer party, had "humiliated and misled the whole public with its decision."

SMER would suffer a disastrous defeat if new elections were held. If it were forced to relinquish power, this would not only endanger many careers, but could perhaps also lead to criminal proceedings against a number of corrupt politicians. Fico wanted to prevent this at all costs after all, he himself was also suspected of corruption.

Slovakia's president appointed a new government 22 March 2018 to replace the one that resigned amid a political crisis triggered by the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee. Prime Minister Robert Fico's three-party coalition stepped down following large street protests sparked by the Feb. 25 shooting deaths of reporter Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova. It is not clear if the move will reduce tensions, but anti-government rallies were cancelled.

President Andrej Kiska swore in a Cabinet composed of the same three parties as previously, and led by Peter Pellegrini, formerly the deputy prime minister. Pellegrini changed five ministers of the 14 in the previous government, but since he was also deputy chairman in the Smer-Social Democracy party, no significant policy changes were expected. His government was likely to continue Fico's strong anti-migrant policies. The coalition would face a confidence vote in Parliament but it's likely to win, because it had 79 of the 150 seats in Parliament.

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