Slovak government faces crunch no-confidence, budget votes on same day

Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger visits Estonia

(Reuters) - Slovakia's minority government faces a crunch day in parliament on Tuesday when lawmakers are due to vote on an opposition no-confidence motion as well as the 2023 budget.

Both could rock the fractured centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Eduard Heger, and voting is expected to be close with a handful of independents undeclared, at a time of political turmoil and infighting.

Opposition groups - including one that quit Heger's coalition in September - brought the no confidence motion, accusing his government of doing too little to help people cope with soaring energy costs.

Analysts have said any change in government could affect the EU member's support for neighbouring Ukraine, particularly if there is a victory for the leftist opposition which has criticised providing Kyiv with military equipment.

The budget vote was originally scheduled for Friday, but delays in debates pushed it onto the same day as the no-confidence motion, a parliament spokesperson said on Friday.

TA3 news channel said 75 lawmakers in the 150-seat parliament were ready to topple the government in the no-confidence motion, just one vote shy of the majority needed.

Several parties have been pushing for an election next year, ahead of the plan for February 2024, if the cabinet falls, or as the price for keeping it in power until then.

If the government loses the no-confidence motion, it would stay in office until President Zuzana Caputova appoints another cabinet, but its powers would be limited. That could curb its efforts to help people hit by the soaring energy bills.

Failing to approve the 2023 state budget could have a similar effect, because the government would be forced into a provisional budget with spending limits.

The budget draft, which currently contains 6 billion euros worth of aid for households hit by high energy prices, sees the deficit at 6.4% of gross domestic product.

(Reporting by Robert Muller in Prague; Editing by Andrew Heavens)