Elections: Slovakia: Shift to the left may weaken support for Ukraine

Former long-term Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico has a good chance of forming the next government in Bratislava.

Elections: Slovakia: Shift to the left may weaken support for Ukraine

Former long-term Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico has a good chance of forming the next government in Bratislava. His left-wing nationalist "Direction - Slovak Social Democracy" (Smer-SSD) won Saturday's parliamentary election.

As the electoral commission reported today, according to the preliminary final result after counting 99.98 percent of the electoral districts, the previous opposition party received 22.9 percent of the votes.

Second place went to the liberal party “Progressive Slovakia” (PS), which is not yet represented in parliament and led by EU MP Michal Simecka, with 18 percent. In the first forecasts after the end of the election, the PS was even in the lead ahead of the Smer-SSD. Voter turnout reached 68.5 percent of the 4.4 million eligible voters.

Slovakia has so far been a determined supporter of Ukraine

The future foreign policy course of the EU and NATO country, which borders directly on Ukraine, will depend on who will lead the new government. So far, Slovakia has been one of the most determined political and military supporters of the neighboring country attacked by Russia. But Fico and the small right-wing populist "Slovak National Party" SNS want to end the arms aid to Ukraine - which is unpopular with the population. However, all other parties in parliament are in favor of further arms deliveries.

It was considered likely on Sunday that Fico would invite the third-placed party "Voice - Social Democracy" (Hlas-SD) of his former deputy Peter Pellegrini to coalition talks. This more liberal social democratic party split off from Fico's Smer-SSD three years ago and was now in third place with 14.7 percent. Fico and Pellegrini agree that Slovakia needs a strong welfare state. However, their views differ on the issue of aid to Ukraine.

While Fico only wants to help the neighboring country with civilian goods, Pellegrini is just as positive about military aid as the bourgeois parties. He still has the trump card up his sleeve against Fico that he could also form a coalition with the liberal party "Progressive Slovakia", which has recently entered parliament. Fico, on the other hand, has no other coalition option. Who leads the next government will therefore depend above all on Hlas-SD.

At least one other party needed for majority

Pellegrini's deputy party leader Erik Tomas said in a TV interview that Hlas-SD was ready for coalition negotiations with Fico's party. Shortly afterwards, Pellegrini softened his stance by saying that he was also open to talks with other parties if they accepted his demands. In any case, at least one other party is needed for a parliamentary majority.

In addition to these three strongest parties, four smaller parties made it into parliament in Bratislava. The right-wing populist and pro-Russian "Slovak National Party" SNS had already announced before the election that it wanted to enter into a joint government with Ficos Smer. The three other small parties, however, are staunch opponents of Fico. They could help a coalition between PS and Hlas-SD gain a majority against Fico. This would also ensure continued military support for Ukraine.

The early parliamentary election became necessary after a conservative-populist-liberal four-party coalition that won against Fico in 2020 collapsed due to internal strife. In December, the rest of this coalition lost a vote of no confidence, but was able to delay early elections for months. In May, President Zuzana Caputova temporarily appointed a cabinet of officials under financial expert Ludovit Odor. Fico, who had previously been burdened by corruption scandals among his colleagues, benefited from the fact that his opponents acted so chaotically.

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