Slovak centre-right asked to form coalition

image captionIveta Radicova got the call after Robert Fico failed to form a coalition

Slovakia's president has asked a centre-right leader to form a government, after Prime Minister Robert Fico said he had failed to do so.

Four right-of-centre parties won a majority in recent polls, but Mr Fico's party was the single biggest winner.

President Ivan Gasparovic has now asked centre-right leader Iveta Radicova to form a coalition by 8 July.

The centre-right campaigned on a programme of austerity, and has pledged to improve ties with Hungary.

Slovakia's economy contracted by almost 5% in 2009, and the country posted a deficit of 6.8%.

Ms Radicova's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union party agreed a coalition programme with the three other centre-right parties during talks on Tuesday.

"I will do my best to make this a cabinet for citizens, an open cabinet that will be able to say in four years that it's been a great success," she said.

The four centre-right parties won 79 out of 150 seats in elections on 12 June, while the alliance led by Mr Fico's centre-left Smer party won 71 seats.

If Ms Radicova succeeds in forming a government, she would become Slovakia's first female prime minister.

Mr Fico told Mr Gasparovic that he was giving up on Wednesday morning.

"I handed the designation back to the president as my idea of a strong, stable and welfare-minded two-party coalition went unfulfilled," he said.

Mr Fico came to power in 2006.

His cabinet included anti-Hungarian nationalists, and worsening ties with Hungary overshadowed the recent election campaign.

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