March 3, 2020 / 6:39 PM / in a month

Slovak president to ask OLANO to form coalition government after election win

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova will on Wednesday ask election winner Igor Matovic, leader of the anti-graft Ordinary People party (OLANO), to head talks on forming a government, she said.

FILE PHOTO: Slovakia's President Zuzana Caputova speaks during a panel discussion at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany February 16, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

Caputova met with the heads of OLANO’s potential coalition partners on Tuesday. “They expressed readiness to continue talks with the OLANO leader on the creation of a new government,” she said on Facebook.

In a fragmented vote on Sunday, OLANO - a politically amorphous, pro-European Union and pro-NATO movement - won 25%, beating centre-left Smer, which has dominated Slovakian politics for over a decade into second place with 18.3%.

Support for OLANO, campaigning on a strong anti-graft message, surged in the final weeks of the campaign, rising from less than 6% late last year.

Matovic, 46, will seek to form a four-party coalition.

His prospective partners are: Sme Rodina (We are Family), a socially conservative party that placed third; the liberal SaS (Freedom and Solidarity) party; and the centrist Za Ludi (For the People) of former president Andrej Kiska.

The coalition would hold a clear majority in parliament with 95 of 150 seats, but analysts have said it could be fragile.

Matovic, a lawmaker since 2010 who is known for publicity stunts, calls himself a social conservative and economic liberal but declines to put political labels on his OLANO party.

We are Family has allied with Italy’s League party of Matteo Salvini and the National Rally of France’s Marine Le Pen on a European level. Its pro-business leader Boris Kollar has said the coalition should avoid legislating on contentious issues like same sex civil partnerships or abortion.

SaS leader Richard Sulik was a part of a government coalition that unseated Smer in 2010 but it fell apart less than two years later when Sulik’s faction missed a confidence vote.

Reporting by Tomas Mrva; editing by John Stonestreet

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