Central banker Odor appointed as Slovakia’s caretaker PM

Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova (center-right) poses for a picture during the appointment ceremony of new Slovak Prime Minister Ludovit Odor (center-left) in Bratislava, Slovakia on May 15, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)

BRATISLAVA – Respected economist Ludovit Odor was made Slovakia's interim prime minister on Monday and will lead the country until early elections are held in September, after months of political infighting brought down the previous center-right government.

Slovakia, a member of the European Union, the euro zone and NATO, has struggled with high inflation driven largely by the crisis in neighboring Ukraine, and political turmoil after previous prime minister Eduard Heger's cabinet lost a no-confidence vote in December.

Odor, 46, is a politically independent economist who comes to the job straight from the board of the country's central bank

Odor, 46, is a politically independent economist who comes to the job straight from the board of the country's central bank.

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Heger had planned to stay on in a caretaker capacity until early polls were held but was forced out after a series of senior resignations this month.

Odor and his caretaker cabinet were picked by President Zuzana Caputova, a liberal pro-western politician who she expected the cabinet to help people struggling with inflation, prepare a budget for 2024 and take steps to ensure budget sustainability, but also to restore calm and respect to the stormy political scene.

"We are facing an epidemic of populism, lies which become the truth for some people after being repeated hundreds of times," Caputova told the new cabinet at its appointment ceremony.

"I expect you to be part of a counterweight to that phenomenon."

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Odor studied mathematics and management, and he has spent most of his career in economic positions in the public sector.

He took part in preparing the country for its entry to the euro zone in 2009, and helped set up an analytical department at the Finance Ministry as well as the country's budget council.

He was on the central bank's board from 2006 to 2010 and returned as vice-governor in 2018. He was also adviser to a center-right prime minister in 2010-2012.

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Central bank chief economist Michal Horvath has been appointed as finance minister.