Slovakia election: Robert Fico’s party wins but faces tough coalition talks

Fico’s Smer-SD party secures 25% of the vote

The former Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s party, Smer-SD, has won the most votes in the parliamentary election, but fell short of a majority. According to the preliminary results, Smer-SD secured 25% of the vote, followed by the center-right Progressive Slovakia-Together (PS-SPOLU) coalition with 18.8%, and the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) with 8.2%. The turnout was 65.8%, the highest since 2002.

Fico, who resigned as prime minister in 2018 amid mass protests over the murder of an investigative journalist, said he was ready to form a coalition with any party except LSNS and PS-SPOLU. He also ruled out a minority government or a snap election. “We are the winners of this election,” he told reporters. “We have a mandate to form a government and we are going to do it.”

PS-SPOLU coalition hopes to end Fico’s dominance

The PS-SPOLU coalition, which consists of two pro-European and liberal parties, emerged as the main challenger to Fico’s dominance in Slovak politics. The coalition’s leader, Michal Truban, said he was happy with the result and hoped to form a “new, modern and pro-European” government with other parties that share his vision. He also said he would not cooperate with Fico or LSNS.

Slovakia election: Robert Fico’s party wins but faces tough coalition talks

Truban, a 37-year-old entrepreneur and anti-corruption activist, campaigned on a platform of improving education, health care and innovation in Slovakia. He also promised to strengthen the rule of law and fight against corruption and oligarchs. He appealed to many young and urban voters who were disillusioned with Fico’s populism and authoritarian tendencies.

LSNS gains ground amid anti-immigrant sentiment

The far-right LSNS party, led by Marian Kotleba, a former neo-Nazi who has been convicted of hate speech, increased its vote share from 8% in 2016 to 8.2% in 2020. The party capitalized on the anti-immigrant sentiment and social discontent among some segments of the population, especially in rural areas. The party also exploited the coronavirus pandemic to spread conspiracy theories and misinformation.

LSNS advocates for Slovakia’s exit from the European Union and NATO, and calls for a “Slovak Slovakia” that would prioritize ethnic Slovaks over minorities. The party also opposes abortion, same-sex marriage and multiculturalism. The party has been accused of inciting violence and hatred against Roma, Jews and Muslims.

Implications for Slovakia’s future

The election results reflect the deep divisions and polarization in Slovak society, as well as the dissatisfaction with the status quo. Fico’s party, which has ruled Slovakia for 12 of the past 14 years, faces a difficult task of finding coalition partners who are willing to work with him. His party has been tarnished by scandals and allegations of corruption, cronyism and abuse of power.

On the other hand, the PS-SPOLU coalition offers a fresh alternative to Fico’s populism and nationalism. The coalition represents a pro-European and progressive vision for Slovakia’s future, based on democratic values and social justice. However, the coalition also needs to find allies among other parties that have similar goals and principles.

The rise of LSNS poses a serious threat to Slovakia’s democracy and stability. The party’s extremist views and actions could undermine the country’s social cohesion and international reputation. The party could also exploit any political instability or crisis to gain more support and influence.

The outcome of the coalition talks will determine Slovakia’s direction for the next four years. The stakes are high for Slovakia’s future as a member of the European Union and NATO, as well as its role in the region and the world.

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