Former Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico’s populist SMER-SSD party has won Slovakia’s election, results showed on Sunday. Fico leads a populist party which has vowed to stop military aid to Ukraine and is critical of the EU and NATO.
The Smer-SD party scored 23.3%, beating the centrist Progressive Slovakia on 17%, with almost all votes counted. Two exit polls estimated that Progressive Slovakia would win the election with a slim victory.
The HLAS (Voice) party, which could become the kingmaker for forming the next government, was third with 15.03%. Before the vote, its leader Peter Pellegrini did not express a preference for cooperating with either of the larger parties but added that his party was closer to Fico.
Fico profits by fueling ‘anger’ over pandemic and war
Electoral campaigns have been .
Fico has said if he returns to power Slovakia will continue supporting Ukraine but would not provide arms or ammunition. He has been called pro-Russian by opponents, a criticism he rejects.
A Progressive Slovakia government would maintain Bratislava’s current support for Kyiv.
“Fico benefitted from all that anxiety brought by the (coronavirus) pandemic and the (Ukraine) war, by the anger spreading in Slovakia in the past three years, and fueling that anger,” sociologist Michal Vasecka was cited by the Reuters news agency as saying.
Slovakia has the eurozone’s highest rate of 10% and a financially depleted health system.
Fico has also gained support over dissatisfaction over a center-right coalition whose government collapsed last year, triggering early elections.
sdi/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)