The SMER-SSD party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico has won Slovakia’s parliamentary election after criticising the European Union as well as NATO and promising to stop military aid to Ukraine.
With 99.2 percent of votes from some 6,000 polling stations counted by the Slovak Statistics Office early on Sunday, the left-wing SMER-SSD party was on 23 percent and the centrist Progresivne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia or PS) on 17 percent. The moderate-left Hlas (Voice) party was a close third.
Final opinion polls before the election showed the two main parties in a dead heat, while exit polls suggested PS would emerge the winner.
Slovakia, a country of 5.5 million, has been run by a caretaker administration of technocrats since May.
With no party winning an outright majority, the party with the largest share of the vote gets the first chance to form a coalition and the composition of any government is likely to be dependent on half a dozen smaller parties.
Hlas leader Peter Pellegrini, a former deputy to Fico, has kept his options open on potential future coalitions but earlier this week said his party was closer to 59-year-old Fico.
An SMER-SSD coalition government could see Slovakia joining Hungary in challenging the EU’s consensus on support for Ukraine, just as the bloc looks to maintain unity in opposing Russia’s full-scale invasion.
The PS party had advocated maintaining Slovakia’s strong backing for Ukraine.
The final districts to report, from large cities, were expected to favour PS but the gap behind Fico appeared too large to bridge.
Fico’s views reflect traditionally warm sentiments towards Russia among many Slovaks.
He has pledged to end military supplies to Ukraine and strive for peace talks – a line close to that of Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban, which is rejected by Ukraine and its allies who say this would only encourage Russian aggression.
The far-right Republika party, which was seen as a possible ally for Fico but unacceptable to others, may not win any seats, according to partial results and media projections.
Source: Al Jazeera
BDST: 1305 HRS, OCT 01, 2023