Eduard Heger
Eduard Heger Portrait.jpg
Prime Minister of Slovakia
Assumed office
1 April 2021
PresidentZuzana Čaputová
Preceded byIgor Matovič
Deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia
In office
21 March 2020 – 1 April 2021
Serving with Richard Sulík, Štefan Holý and Veronika Remišová
Prime MinisterIgor Matovič
Minister of Finance
In office
21 March 2020 – 1 April 2021
Prime MinisterIgor Matovič
Preceded byLadislav Kamenický
Succeeded byIgor Matovič
Member of the National Council
In office
23 March 2016 – 21 March 2020
Personal details
Born (1976-05-03) 3 May 1976 (age 46)
Bratislava, Czechoslovakia
(now Slovakia)
Political partyOĽaNO (since 2016)
SpouseLucia Hegerová
Children4
EducationUniversity of Economics in Bratislava
Signature

Eduard Heger (Slovak pronunciation: [ˈeduard ˈɦeger]; born 3 May 1976) is a Slovak politician serving as Prime Minister of Slovakia since 1 April 2021. He previously served as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the cabinet of Igor Matovič. Heger is a member of the presidium of the populist movement Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO).

Early life

Heger was born in 1976 in Bratislava to parents employed in culture. His father, a member of the Communist party, organized big music festivals, which allowed young Heger to meet many local high profile musicians. His family was not religious, but Heger embraced Catholic charismatic renewal as a young adult after the death of his father. Prior to his entry to politics he was professionally involvement in management of the Charismatic Christian communities in Slovakia. In particular he was active in the community under the administration of the Cathedral of St. Martin in Bratislava. [1]

Eduard Heger and Juraj Droba opening a school in the Bratislava region
Eduard Heger and Juraj Droba opening a school in the Bratislava region

In 1999, Heger graduated in Trade and Management at the University of Economics in Bratislava. In his early career, he held junior managerial positions at several small companies, including several restaurants and bathroom accessory producer Intercomp. Between 2001 - 2005, Heger worked as a junior consultant for Cubic Corporation on a military modernization project for the Slovak Ministry of Defence. In his early career, he spent about 18 months in the US, where he became acquainted with Juraj Droba, who later went on to become the Governor of the Bratislava Region a prominent liberal politician in Slovakia. Heger, despite being a conservative, formed a strong friendship with Droba. Together with American investors, they established a company called Old Nassau, the producer of Double Cross Vodka, a premium Slovak vodka brand destined mainly for export to the US. At Old Nassau, Heger was responsible for production and marketing until his entry to politics. [2] [3]

In 2016, Heger was persuaded to run for a MP seat by prominent figures of the Slovak Charismatic movement Branislav Škripek and Richard Vašečka, who were themselves active in politics.[1]

Political career

Opposition MP, 2016–2020

In the 2016 parliamentary election, Heger gained a seat in the National Council of the Slovak Republic for the anti-corruption movement Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO). Although his 24th place on electoral list of his party would otherwise not suffice for a seat, he became an MP due to over 15,000 personal votes he received under the Slovakia's optional preferential voting system.[4] As a MP, he got appointed the chairman of the OĽaNO parliamentary group, the chairman of the National Council Committee for Control of Military Intelligence and a member of the Economic and Foreign Affairs committees.

Heger was a very active and vigorous critic of Fico's Third Cabinet in Parliament. During his term, he was evaluated as the 2nd most active member of the National Council. He presented 173 bills and spoke 680 times in Parliament. He was the opposition shadow Minister of Finance and drew up "Program for sound public finances" of his movement and presented a set of measures to fight bureaucracy. He also participated in and organised several anti-corruption and anti-government protests. During the election term, he was a co-organiser of the Zastavme Hazard (Stop Gambling) initiative, which fought to ban gambling.[5]

In 2020 parliamentary election, Heger ran from the 142nd place on the OĽaNO list in line with the tradition of the populist movement, where popular politicians run from the bottom positions on the list that do not guarantee them automatic MP seat. He was once again elected by preferential votes, having received nearly 63,000 personal votes.

In government

Minister of Finance, 2020–2021

See also: Matovič's Cabinet

After the 2020 OĽaNO electoral victory, Heger forfeit his parliamentary seat to join the government, which is not compatible with the position of an MP in the Slovak constitutional system. In the cabinet of Prime Minister Igor Matovič he served as Minister of Finance and deputy PM. During his short tenure he had to deal with a major fiscal shock of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The most important tasks with respect to the pandemic were ensuring Slovakia's ability to finance its spending needs and overseeing preparation of the national Recovery and Resilience Plan to access the Next Generation EU funding from the European Union. On 1 April 2021 a government reshuffle in response to the demands of OĽaNO's junior coalition coalition partners Freedom and Solidarity and For the People parties who refused to support a government with Igor Matovič as a PM any longer took place. As a result, Heger became the Prime Minister and the previous PM Matovič took over the Ministry of Finance. [6]

Prime Minister, 2021–

See also: Heger's Cabinet

As a PM, Heger has won praise from his coalition partners for his diplomatic skills, which facilitated more constructive functioning of the government in comparison to the combative style to his predecessor Matovič. [7] At the same time, critics stress the lack of autonomy of Heger in relation to Matovič, who remained the chairman of OĽaNO. [8] On the international stage, Heger has gained notability for his strong support for Ukraine in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, which manifested in several rounds of Slovak arms deliveries for Ukraine, support for Ukrainian membership in the European Union and a personal visit of Kyiv and surrounding areas devastated by the Russian army in April 2022 along with the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell.[9]

Denys Shmyhal, EU officials and Eduard Heger visit Bucha after the massacre
Denys Shmyhal, EU officials and Eduard Heger visit Bucha after the massacre
Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Eduard Heger in Kyiv
Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Eduard Heger in Kyiv
Jill Biden and Eduard Heger meeting staff members of NGOs helping Ukrainian refugges at Vyšné Nemecké border crossing
Jill Biden and Eduard Heger meeting staff members of NGOs helping Ukrainian refugges at Vyšné Nemecké border crossing

Political views

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Heger is a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its defense against the Russian invasion. Slovakia provided major arms deliveries, including its sole S-300 missile system[9] to Ukraine and Heger personally lobbied EU leaders for Ukrainian membership in the EU.[10] At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Heger explained that his support for Ukraine is due to his belief that if Ukraine was allowed to fall, Slovakia would be next in line to be invaded by Russia. [11]

Taxes

As a Minister of Finance, Heger supported a shift of tax burden from direct to property taxation. His plans were met with a strong backlash on social media, where claims that a massive hike of real estate tax was imminent mushroomed. Heger called these claims a "hoax" and stated his reform will not increase the overall tax burden but rather provide incentives for families and businesses to work and invest by decreasing the income tax.[12] The reform was never implemented, likely due to short-lasting tenure of Heger as the Minister of Finance.

Human Rights

Heger is a believer in the importance of European values such as human rights and the right to the freedom of expression. He also supported the protection of minorities. However he noted that Slovakia will be taking a neutral stance in the controversial Hungarian LGBT bill. Slovakia under his premiership did not sign a joint letter on fighting discrimination against the LGBT community, which 17 other EU leaders had signed.[13]

Abortion

Heger is staunchly pro-life stating that the human life begins at conception. Nonetheless, he rejects the "polarizing" debate around abortion in Slovakia.[14]

Personal life

Heger and his wife Lucia have four children. He is a devout Charismatic Catholic and in his free time he worked in several functions in the Catholic Church of Slovakia. [15] [16]

References

  1. ^ a b Tódová, Monika (31 March 2021). "Nový premiér Eduard Heger: V Amerike som sa naučil, že ten, kto má opačný názor, nie je nepriateľ". Denník N (in Slovak). Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  2. ^ Kniš, Viktor. "Kto je budúci premiér Eduard Heger?". refresher.sk (in Slovak). Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  3. ^ Kern, Miro (28 March 2021). "Nekonfliktný charizmatik a obchodník s vodkou: premiérom bude Eduard Heger". Denník N.
  4. ^ Mikušovič, Dušan (28 February 2020). "Krúžky majú v našich voľbách veľkú váhu, voliči môžu stranám prekopať kandidátky". Denník N (in Slovak). Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  5. ^ "Official profile at the party website" (in Slovak). Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  6. ^ Bariak, Ladislav; Debnár, Ján. "Koalíčná kríza: Matovič sa chce vymeniť s Hegerom". Aktuality.sk (in Slovak). Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  7. ^ "Sulík: Hegerova vláda priniesla upokojenie vzťahov". TERAZ.sk (in Slovak). 9 July 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  8. ^ Tkačenko, Peter. "Toto je autentický Heger (komentár)". komentare.sme.sk (in Slovak).
  9. ^ a b Hudec, Michal (7 April 2022). "Slovak, Austrian PM's to join EU leaders on Kyiv trip". www.euractiv.com. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  10. ^ von der Burchard, Hans (14 June 2022). "Slovakia's PM urges Germany to accept Ukraine as EU candidate". POLITICO. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  11. ^ "Heger Warns Russia Could Threaten Slovakia If Ukraine Falls". www.tasr.sk. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  12. ^ Odkladal, Martin. "Ministerstvo financií vyvracia hoax o dramatickom zvyšovaní daní z nehnuteľností, ktorý sa šíri na sociálnych sieťach". Aktuality.sk (in Slovak). Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  13. ^ Koreň, Marián (2021-06-30). "Slovak, Hungarian leaders meet in Budapest". www.euractiv.com. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  14. ^ Magušin, Michal. "Premiér Eduard Heger / Hlasoval by som za Záborskej zákon, život treba chrániť od počatia". www.postoj.sk (in Slovak). Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  15. ^ Hanus, Martin; Majchrák, Jozef. "Charizmatik v parlamente: Patríme do politiky". www.postoj.sk (in Slovak). Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  16. ^ Hudec, Michal (14 June 2022). "Slovakia backs Ukraine's EU ambition without shortcuts". www.euractiv.com. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
Political offices Preceded byLadislav Kamenický Minister of Finance 2020–2021 Succeeded byIgor Matovič Preceded byIgor Matovič Prime Minister of Slovakia 2021–present Incumbent