Pro-Russian populist Robert Fico wins the Slovakia election

According to early results released on Sunday, a populist former prime minister who ran on an agenda of pro-Russian and anti-American sentiments, Robert Fico, has won Slovakia’s early parliamentary election.

After the victory, Robert Fico’s populist Smer-SSD party is poised to form Slovakia’s government for the fourth time. Fico promised to cut any military assistance to Ukraine.

The Slovak Statistics Office reported that results from nearly all 6,000 polling stations showed that the leftist Smer-SD party had a clear lead with 23.5% of the votes.

While exit polls had indicated that Progressive Slovakia would win (predictions based on polls from two news sites), final results showed that Fico won by a margin of 6%, based on results with 90% of districts reporting.

With 16.5% of the votes, the Progressive Slovakia party, a liberal, pro-European, came in a distant second.

Establishing a coalition government will require 3-5 forces since no party gained a majority of seats in the new parliament, which remains fragmented.

One party that may play a key role in building the future administration is the Hlas (Voice) party. Third, with 15.1% Hlas, is led by Peter Pellegrini, Fico’s former Smer deputy. After Smer lost the last election in 2020, Pellegrini broke up with Fico. However, a reconciliation between the two would increase Fico’s chances of forming a government.

To create Slovakia’s next government, Smer-SD, expected to get 42 seats in the 150-member parliament, would require coalition partners. With an expected 27 seats, Hlas might be a key coalition partner.

Before the vote, Pellegrini maintained an open mind but hinted that his party was becoming closer to Fico. Michal Simecka, the Progressive Slovakia leader, hasn’t given up on establishing the next administration, either.

The conservative Christian Democrats came in fifth (7%), followed by the populist Ordinary People group (OL’ANO) in fourth place (9.1%).

A liberal SaS party (6%) and the ultranationalist Slovak National Party (5.7%) garnered enough votes to be represented in the 150-seat National Council.

The election was an indicator for the small (5.5 mln) nation in eastern Europe’s support of neighbouring Ukraine in its war with Russia. Fico’s victory might pressure the EU’s and NATO’s unity. He promised to terminate Slovakia’s military backing for Ukraine in Russia’s war.

Leading the liberal Progressive Slovakia party, Michal Simecka, ran on the theme of continuing Slovakia’s support for Ukraine.

Fico has gained followers in light of the public’s discontent with the previous government coalition. When the centre-right administration fell apart last year, early elections were called.

Fico, the prime minister from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018, is against EU sanctions against Russia, doubts Ukraine’s ability to drive out the Russian forces, and wishes to prevent Ukraine from enlisting in NATO.

Fico suggests that the EU and the US should use their power to pressure Russia and Ukraine to reach a compromise peace agreement rather than sending weapons to Ukraine. He supported similar foreign policy lines to Viktor Orbán, the right-populist leader of Hungary.

The election results demonstrated that the far-right Republika party, viewed as a potential Fico ally but undesirable to others, has not gained any parliamentary seats. So, the only coalition pattern possible for Smer-SD is leftist Hlas and nationalist SNS.

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