Slovak President Zuzana Caputova (R) hands over the documents as she appoints leader of the Ordinary People Party Igor Matovic (L) as new Slovak prime minister Saturday. File Photo courtesy of Slovak President's Office/EPA-EFE
March 21 (UPI) -- Slovak President Zuzana Caputova administered the oath of office to new Prime Minister Igor Matovic on Saturday amid economic turmoil due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Matovic, 46, is taking the leadership role as the country heads into recession after measures to control the virus have shuttered shops and cafes for more than a week. By Monday, production will be suspended at all four of the country's car-making plants, which is key to its export economy.
"We are taking responsibility for Slovakia at a time when confidence in police and courts is minimal, when Slovakia tops corruption rankings," Matovic said after being sworn in. "We'll do anything to ensure that citizens will trust their state again."
Matovic's party, Ordinary People, won the Feb. 29 general election and created a landslide-majority coalition with three other parties -- right-wing populist We Are Family, the center-right start-up For the People and liberal SaS Party.
Caputova accepted the resignation of former Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini on Friday evening.
Matovic, of Trnava, became a member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic in 2010.
The transition of power has also halted economic response to the pandemic. Neighboring Poland and Czech Republic have approved stimulus packages, with Slovakia yet to unveil such a package.
"He will have to do some firefighting quickly," said economist Lubomir Korsnak. "But the virus overshadows a bigger problem: The business model based on cheap labor has exhausted itself. The new administration must tackle this as well."