Corona in Slovakia: arguing instead of acting

Status: 10.12.2021 6:00 a.m.

In front of the public, the governing coalition of Slovakia quarrels over vaccination premiums and an extension of the lockdown – in the middle of a severe corona wave. Many voters followed the drama with horror.

By Peter Lange, ARD Studio Prague

Zuzana Caputova, the Slovak President, has burst her collar – not for the first time. Everyone could see that the governing coalition “can practically not accept a single corona measure without causing internal disputes in the coalition or causing the risk of its disintegration”.

Peter Lange
ARD-Studio Prag

What the president thinks has just been shown again – with the vaccination premium for pensioners. It is intended to motivate older people in Slovakia to be immunized. Because the low vaccination rate of less than 50 percent is the main reason why the country has been hit hardest by the current corona wave.

So by January 15th, everyone over 60 will get up to 300 euros in cash who have been vaccinated three times. This is what the parliament in Bratislava decided on Thursday after days of discussion and two weeks of debate in the government.

An agonizing way to compromise

At first there was talk of a completely different amount. Marian Viskupic from the neoliberals said that his party had agreed to a maximum of 150 euros – he considered anything beyond that to be “irresponsible” with a view to public finances.

But Finance Minister Igor Matovic then pushed forward, also to put the neoliberals under pressure. The agreed solution will not work, he explained, and since there was no agreement, he had to communicate the “unfortunately god” also publicly.

Every pensioner who is vaccinated should receive 500 euros, according to Matovic. Veronika Remisova, leader of the ruling party “For the People”, agreed to the solution. This sum, which should only be spent in selected institutions, is “an acceptable form of motivation”.

A voucher solution is discussed in the government for two days and then in parliament – without any result. Finance Minister Matovic’s new proposal: Instead of 500 euros in the form of vouchers, pensioners should be paid 300 euros in cash.

The pattern repeats itself

The same pattern then also applies to the question of how to deal with the lockdown in Slovakia, which is expiring today. The panel of experts advising the government had recommended that the complete lockdown be maintained for another week. As a result, Health Minister Vladimir Lengvarsky suggested last Monday that the lockdown for vaccinated and unvaccinated people be extended until December 16.

Remisova, on the other hand, said a day later that the requirements for vaccinated people had been relaxed. The cabinet then decided: As of today, shops in Slovakia will open in 2G mode. For this purpose, the schools will be switched to online lessons on Monday.

The population has lost confidence

Vaclav Hrich, sociologist and head of the polling agency AKO, has meanwhile registered new record values ​​for the loss of confidence in the government.

He could remember that there had ever been such low figures before: “Trust in this government and thus in the state and its institutions is so low that it is embarrassing.”

Slovakia: Now with vaccination bonus against Covid

Peter Lange, ARD Prague, 9.12.2021 · 19:25

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