Pro-Russian party has high chance of winning Slovakia election, but 30% of voters still undecided

On 30 September, Slovakia will hold early parliamentary elections, the outcome of which could be unpleasant for the EU and Ukraine.

How likely is the scenario of a pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian coalition? If pro-Russian candidate Fico wins, will Bratislava halt its military support for Ukraine?

Pro-Russian Fico has high chances to win the election

The party led by former Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) has a high chance of winning the election. As a result, a politician who promotes anti-Western and pro-Russian narratives could come to power in a country that is one of Ukraine’s most active supporters.

In this scenario, the Slovak policy, primarily domestic but also foreign – might become similar to that of Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary. This is highly likely if the Smer-SD party and its leader, Robert Fico, who has been the Slovak prime minister for twelve years, form a coalition.

Fico’s success is mainly due to the setbacks of the last governments of Igor Matovic and Eduard Heger, as their work caused disappointment among many Slovaks.

A new coalition could include openly neo-Nazi Respublika and conservative “We Are Family” parties

According to recent polls, 20% of Slovak voters intend to vote for Fico’s Smer-SD party. Its main rival, the liberal Progressive Slovakia party (the party of the president), has 16%, and the Voice-Social Democracy (Hlas) party has 13%.

The remaining parties have 9% or less, as the Sloval political landscape is fragmented.

A coalition with Smer-SD could include the openly neo-Nazi Respublika party and the conservative “We Are Family” party.

Read more: Marian Kotleba – nazi ideologist, EU hater and Russia backer is running for election

Progressive Slovakia and Hlas could form a coalition together

The Progressive Slovakia party was founded in 2017 and has never been represented in the Slovak parliament. Its young leader, Michal Simečka, is also a Vice-President of the European Parliament.

Simečka is a pro-European and pro-Western politician, and his party is seen as a centrist-liberal project, popular primarily among young people.

Read also: Slovak liberals promise to keep support for Ukraine after election

Hlas, one of the strongest parties in 2020, and its leader, Peter Pellegrini, are losing support. It is unlikely that Hlas will get enough votes to form a government, but it can become a “king-maker” as it can create a coalition with one of two leaders, including Progressive Slovakia.

Progressive Slovakia would have to rely on the support of several weird political allies, including Hlas. But as Hlas’s rating falls in the polls, this coalition would also require several minor parties to join.

Should we expect an Orban-style government in Slovakia?

In the scenario, when the next government is formed by Fico’s coalition with the right-wing radicals, it will be pretty similar to Orban’s.

However, the key difference between the countries is that Slovakia does not have a monopoly party. Orban has a majority in parliament, while Fico will have to consider other political parties’ wishes. The second difference is that Slovakia is immune to authoritarianism, unlike Hungary.

Robert Fico is considered a controversial figure in Slovak politics. Not only is his name still associated with the largest corruption cases in the country, but he is also known for his pro-Russian rhetoric.

Fico wants to stop military aid for Ukraine

Robert Fico and representatives of his Smer-SD party call Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine “America’s war against Russia”, which cannot be won because the latter is a nuclear power.

Fico opposes the Slovak government’s provision of weapons to defend Ukraine and claims that supporters of Ukraine will soon be in the minority in Europe, especially if Donald Trump wins the next US presidential election.

Fico has become significantly radicalised in recent years and is now voicing slogans that were unheard of four years ago. He is currently occupying a Eurosceptic niche.

Read also: Slovakia election: Fico focuses his campaign on anti-Ukraine, pro-Russian narratives

In March 2023, it was reported that Slovakia provided military assistance to Ukraine for 10% of its defence budget and is among the top ten nations in the world in this regard.

Read more: Profits for Slovak arms companies quadrupled since Russia’s war began

Pro-Russian sentiments in Slovak society

In Slovak society itself, attitudes towards Ukraine are mixed. Slovakia has become vulnerable to Russian narratives and disinformation online.

While all four governments in power over the past three and a half years have been pro-Ukrainian and pro-Western, the mood of Slovak society has changed significantly in favour of Russia over the past year and often disinformation is blamed.

Read also: Slovakia 2023 Election: combatting disinformation under DSA

According to a recent public opinion poll conducted by Globsec in eight EU countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Slovaks have the most Russian and anti-Western attitudes in the region.

Globsec polls show that only 40 per cent of Slovaks currently hold Russia responsible for the war in Ukraine, while 51 per cent believe that either Ukraine or the West is primarily accountable.

This figure sharply contrasts Poland, where 85 per cent hold Russia responsible, and the Czech Republic, where 71 per cent blame Russia for the war.

Read also: Slovakia’s election possible outcome and disinformation impact

30% of Slovak voters are still undecided

The upcoming parliamentary election in Slovakia could undermine support for Ukraine if opposition parties come to power, President Zuzana Caputova has already warned in an interview with Politico. She added that if “populist parties” head the government this autumn, Bratislava’s foreign policy will be similar to that of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Slovakia shows what happens when several factors come together: a lack of trust in institutions, a society inclined to believe disinformation, and strong political forces that can exploit the frustrations and fears of the public to their advantage. The problem in Slovakia is that more than 30% of people still hesitate about supporting any of the parties.

This is a crucial issue in Slovak politics. Who will these 30% of people who have no position vote for? Therefore, everything is always decided in the Slovak election in the last few days, and any surprises are possible. Both, pleasant for Europe and not.

Read also: Slovakia Election 2023 and possible pro-Russian revanche – a headache for the West 

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