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Former Prime Minister Fico wins the election in Slovakia

Weapons aid for Ukraine is shaky
Former Prime Minister Fico wins the election in Slovakia

Contrary to initial forecasts, the left-wing nationalist Social Democrats of the former long-term head of government are the strongest force in the parliamentary elections in Slovakia, Ukraine's neighbor. Fico promises voters to stop arms aid to Kiev.

The left-wing national opposition party of the former long-term head of government Fico has won the Slovakian parliamentary election. After almost 99 percent of the electoral districts were counted, the opposition party “Towards – Slovak Social Democracy” (Smer-SSD) received 23.3 percent of the votes, according to the preliminary results of the State Election Commission in Bratislava from early Sunday morning. This meant that Fico's party was unassailably ahead of the liberal party “Progressive Slovakia” (PS).

The liberal party, which has not yet even been represented in parliament, was in second place with 17 percent. Voter turnout was provisionally 68 percent. Two post-election surveys published by TV stations on Saturday evening had seen PS narrowly ahead of Smer-SSD.

Difficult government formation expected

However, it will not be easy for Fico's Smer party to form a coalition with a sufficient majority. Fico had announced before the election that he wanted to end the arms aid, which was unpopular with the population, and only help Ukraine with civilian goods if he returned to power. Almost all other parties elected to parliament want to stick to it.

The EU and NATO country Slovakia borders directly on Ukraine and has so far been one of the most determined political and military supporters of the neighboring country attacked by Russia. Fico was head of government from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2018 and led Slovakia into the Schengen area in 2007 and the eurozone in 2009. After the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova in 2018, the investigation uncovered large corruption networks in which high-ranking state officials were also involved. Fico was forced to resign under pressure from mass protests.

Third strongest party as future partner?

Above all, Smer needs as partners the more liberal Social Democrats that split off from her under former Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, who achieved 15 percent. This party, called “Voice – Social Democracy” (Hlas-SD), is a possible coalition partner for both Smer-SSD and PS. Like Smer-SSD, Hlas-SD also advocates a strong welfare state. In contrast to Fico, Pellegrini is in favor of further military aid to Ukraine.

In addition to these three strongest, three small parties that are in favor of arms aid to Ukraine, as well as the pro-Russian Slovak National Party SNS, came into parliament. PS boss Michal Simecka was extremely cautious after the two forecasts were published. The results are hopeful, he told the TASR news agency. However, his party still painfully remembers that the election result for his party in the last election was worse than the forecasts. In the 2020 parliamentary election, the PS, which ran as an electoral alliance with another liberal party, narrowly missed the hurdle for entering parliament. There is a five percent threshold for individual parties, but an electoral alliance must reach over seven percent.

The election, which began on Saturday morning, ended late in the evening. Instead of 10 p.m. as planned, the last polling stations closed three quarters of an hour later. The reason for this were problems in individual polling stations where election commission members had health problems. According to the law, interruptions in voting must be compensated for by a corresponding extension of the voting time.

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