Slovakia: Cabinet wins confidence vote in parliament

Of the 135 deputies present in the 150-seat legislature, 80 voted to approve the Cabinet's agenda for the next four years. The new government is expected to dismantle or adjust reforms that helped bring the country into the European Union and NATO two years ago.

Fico, a leftist and populist from the Smer-Social Democracy Party, enjoys the backing of pensioners, the poor, the unemployed and blue-collar workers who had resented his predecessor Mikulas Dzurinda's belt-tightening reforms.

His government plans to introduce new taxes on the rich instead of the current 19 percent flat tax, new taxes on gifts, and two rates for the value-added tax.

Fico also plans to pull out Slovak troops from southern Iraq, where 104 troops have served under Polish command since 2003. He said the Slovak withdrawal will be coordinated with the U.S.-led coalition and Iraq's government, but he gave no timetable, according to the AP.

After winning a majority of votes in general elections in June, Fico forged an alliance with the ultranationalist Slovak National Party led by Jan Slota and the People's Party-Movement for a Democratic Slovakia of autocratic ex-Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Fico's move prompted criticism at home and abroad.