Slovakia’s New Technocratic PM And ‘Cabinet of Experts’ Face Off Against Populists

Slovakia’s New Technocratic PM And ‘Cabinet of Experts’ Face Off Against Populists

Soros’s or his own man?

In former prime minister Iveta Radičová’s opinion, Ódor is a “great choice”. He was her advisor when she served as prime minister from 2010 to 2012. Under her leadership, he co-authored the Budget Responsibility Constitutional Act. Radičová has recently described him as “a prudent analyst who understands public finances and knows the continuity of Slovakia’s development”. He also has a natural defence mechanism – a sense of humour, she added.

Ódor quickly proved this, when Smer, the party leading recent public opinion polls which is headed by the former three-time premier Robert Fico, labelled him as Soros’s man. Since being ousted from power in 2018, Fico and his Smer party have espoused increasingly extremist and pro-Kremlin views. He is convinced that the president and her new prime minister follow orders from the 92-year-old Jewish US financier George Soros – a bogeyman for many populists in the region – and describes the new cabinet as anti-democratic because the president did not involve political parties in its formation.

Fico also played the “Soros card” after the contract killing of the investigative journalist Ján Kuciak five years ago and the subsequent huge demonstrations across the country that led to his ousting. He has claimed that Soros was behind the then-president Andrej Kiska’s speech that called for a major reshuffle in Fico’s government or an early election.

The new prime minister’s only established connection to Soros is that he lectured at the Central European University, a renowned educational establishment founded in 1991 by Soros. In response to Fico’s recent claim, Ódor said: “All I can say about the attacks is that I thank Fico that his government nominated me for the position of central bank deputy governor.”

Ódor was appointed to that post in February 2018 by Smer’s coalition partner Most-Híd. With many years of experience in shaping politics from behind the scenes, Ódor as prime minister is now promising a different approach to the management of public affairs by avoiding arguments in the media, scandals and empty promises.

“We want to show that it can be done differently,” he said, as he named five principles of his government. These include peace, professionalism, unity, service to the country, and an eye to the future. “We’ll do more than just shine light and heat: our priority will be an emphasis on the future and the competitiveness of Slovakia.”

Before becoming the new prime minister, many people were unfamiliar with Ódor, even though he was behind some of the country’s major tax and pension reforms, like the introduction of the flat tax (scrapped by Smer a decade ago) and the euro. Despite being an economist, Ódor has a strong sense of duty towards those in financial need. He is also the author of four books that popularises the economy through jokes, poems and useful tips.

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