Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič survived a no-confidence vote over allegations of plagiarism after 18 hours of parliamentary debate.
Denník N reported that Matovič copied entire passages from two books and submitted it as his work, without quoting the sources in his 1998 diploma thesis. Matovič, who was appointed prime minister in March this year, also defended himself by saying that he deliberately did not err in writing his work. However, he did not consent to the publication of the text of his diploma thesis.
Matovič said in advance that if the opposition succeeded in proposing a vote of no confidence, it would leave politics. According to the Slovak constitution, no confidence in the Prime Minister by the parliament means the fall of the entire government.
The debate, which ended shortly before five o’clock in the morning, was marked by mutual attacks by the opposition and the governing coalition. Most members of the government sided with the prime minister, and surprise was caused by the Minister of Agriculture Ján Mičovský, who said that in a decent country, a high constitutional official should resign for a similar transgression or “youthful recklessness.” Mičovský is a member of Matovič’s party Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLANO).
The prime minister left parliament during the debate, for which he earned criticism. Members of the far-right Kotlebovci-People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) party, Marian Kotleba, even blocked the podium for about forty-five minutes.
Matovic is not the first politician in the current coalition to face charges of plagiarism. The media has previously pointed out that, for example, the Speaker of Parliament and the head of the second strongest government movement, We Are the Family, Boris Kollár, copied foreign texts in his dissertation without citing the source. Two smaller coalition parties, Freedom and Solidarity and For the People, whose deputies did not take part in the vote on his removal from the head of parliament, also opposed Kollár.
As an opposition politician, Matovič criticized the then-Speaker of the House, Andrej Danek, for plagiarism and urged him to resign. In a similar case, Kollára no longer spoke about the need for resignation, which he justified by his interest in maintaining the coalition.