Home Featured Robert Fico wins Slovakia election with anti-Ukraine stance

Robert Fico wins Slovakia election with anti-Ukraine stance



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Anti-Ukraine former prime minister Robert Fico won Saturday’s elections in Slovakia, putting himself on track to try to form a new coalition government that could undermine western efforts to stay united in helping Kyiv in its war against Russia.

Robert Fico and his Smer party were on almost 23 per cent, ahead of Michal Šimečka and his liberal Progressive Slovakia party on almost 18 per cent, according to preliminary results released early on Sunday, with 98 per cent of the votes counted. Šimečka’s party had topped exit polls late on Saturday.

Slovakia’s snap election had raised alarm bells in Washington and Brussels, which feared that Fico’s return to power would bring another anti-Ukraine voice into the EU alongside Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán. Fico has opposed sanctions against Russia and also claims that Nato-led support for Ukraine undermines national sovereignty. 

After staging a stunning political comeback, Fico will now be given the first opportunity to try to form a ruling coalition.

The populist politician remains entangled in several corruption cases and last year had to survive an attempt by his opponents to lift his parliamentary immunity. He was forced to resign as prime minister in 2018 amid mass street protests sparked by the murder of a journalist who investigated corruption and his fiancée.

The fragmentation of Slovakia’s parties means there is little certainty Fico can manage to find enough allies to form a governing coalition and avoid a hung parliament.

Šimečka is a member of the European parliament and former journalist, including briefly for the Financial Times, He had called for stronger EU unity to help Ukraine and warned against bringing smaller Slovakia closer to Hungary’s pro-Russia orbit. His party had failed to win enough votes to enter parliament in the last election.

The Hlas party of another former prime minister, Peter Pellegrini, came third with 14.7 per cent of the votes. Pellegrini replaced Fico in office before he fell out with his former mentor and left Smer to form Hlas.

The election campaign had been tense, with candidates exchanging insults and even physical blows. Fico and his nominally centre-left Smer party were the frontrunners almost throughout the election campaign, until Šimečka appeared to stage a late surge.

Since May Slovakia has been run by a technocratic government, appointed by president Zuzana Čaputová, to stop the country from slipping into further political chaos after the previous coalition government imploded amid infighting. 

Three of the main parties in the election failed to clear the 5 per cent threshold to enter parliament, including the far-right Republika party, which scored 4.75 per cent and had been expected to help Fico after the vote.


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