Populist Ex-PM Surges Ahead in Slovakia’s Election

Slovakia’s Former Prime Minister Robert Fico Leads in Parliamentary Elections

Fico’s Pro-Russian and Anti-American Message Gains Popularity

Former Prime Minister Robert Fico and his leftist Smer, or Direction, party are projected to win the early parliamentary elections in Slovakia, according to preliminary results. Fico campaigned on a pro-Russian and anti-American message, which resonated with voters, propelling his party to lead with 23.7% of the vote.

The Progressive Slovakia party, a liberal and pro-West newcomer, trailed behind with 15.6% of the votes. With no party expected to secure a majority, the formation of a coalition government will be necessary. The left-wing Hlas (Voice) party, led by Fico’s former deputy Peter Pellegrini, ranked third with 15.4% of the vote. Pellegrini’s potential reunion with Fico could bolster their chances of forming a government.

The populist Ordinary People group secured fourth place, followed by the conservative Christian Democrats in fifth. Two parties, the ultranationalist Slovak National Party and the far-right Republic movement, both close to the 5% threshold required for representation in the 150-seat National Council, could potentially join forces with Fico’s party in a coalition. The pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party is also expected to secure seats.

Implications for Regional Dynamics and European Unity

The election in Slovakia carries broader significance for the region, particularly in relation to the ongoing conflict between neighboring Ukraine and Russia. Fico has vowed to withdraw Slovakia’s military support for Ukraine if he succeeds in returning to power. This stance could strain the fragile unity within the European Union and NATO.

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Michal Simecka, the leader of the liberal Progressive Slovakia party, campaigned promising to maintain Slovakia’s support for Ukraine. Fico, during his previous terms as prime minister, expressed opposition to EU sanctions on Russia and questioned Ukraine’s ability to repel Russian aggression. He also voiced opposition to Ukraine’s accession to NATO.

Fico advocates for diplomatic efforts, proposing that the EU and the U.S. use their influence to broker a compromise peace deal between Russia and Ukraine, rather than sending arms to Kyiv. He has echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s controversial claim that the Ukrainian government is run by Nazis.

Diverging Views on Immigration and LGBTQ+ Rights

In addition to his pro-Russian stance, Fico campaigned against immigration and LGBTQ+ rights. He even threatened to dismiss investigators from the National Criminal Agency and the special prosecutor’s office, institutions responsible for combating corruption and serious crimes.

Progressive Slovakia, formed in 2017, takes a different approach. The party sees Slovakia’s future as deeply intertwined with its existing membership in the EU and NATO. It also advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, a viewpoint that differs from the more conservative stance of major parties in Slovakia, which generally align with Roman Catholic values.

The 2019 European Parliament election saw the Progressive Slovakia party, in coalition with the Together party, garner over 20% of the vote and resonate particularly with young voters. However, they narrowly missed winning seats in the national parliament during the 2020 elections.

The final results of the parliamentary elections in Slovakia will be announced later today, shedding light on the precise composition of the future government and its implications for the country’s domestic and regional policies.

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