Robert Fico doubles down on pro-Russia stance after Slovakia election win

Robert Fico doubles down on pro-Russia stance after Slovakia election win

Slovakia’s populist former prime minister, Robert Fico, who campaigned on a pledge to finish navy help to Ukraine, has stated his place “has not modified” after his occasion’s clear election win made him favorite to steer the nation for a fourth time.

Fico informed reporters he was ready for Slovakia’s president to present him a mandate to begin forming a authorities – anticipated on Monday – after officers stated on Sunday that Smer-SD had scored 22.9% in Saturday’s vote with 99.98% of ballots counted.

Fico stated he was able to open talks with different events on forming a coalition authorities. “We’re right here, we’re prepared, we’ve realized one thing, we’re extra skilled,” he stated. “We now have clear concepts; we’ve clear plans.”

The 59-year-old, whose pro-Moscow stance has sparked fears Slovakia will be a part of Hungary and its authoritarian chief Viktor Orbán in difficult the EU’s consensus on assist for Kyiv, added: “Folks in Slovakia have larger issues than Ukraine.”

Fico has leaned near Orbán, who congratulated him on his victory on Sunday. “Guess who’s again!” the Hungarian prime minister stated on X, previously often known as Twitter. “At all times good to work along with a patriot. Trying ahead to it.”

Fico stated his occasion was “not altering [its view] that we’re ready to assist Ukraine in a humanitarian manner … We’re ready to assist with the reconstruction of the state. However you already know our opinion on arming Ukraine.”

The liberal, pro-western Progressive Slovakia (PS) occasion completed second on slightly below 18%, with Hlas – a spin-off from Smer shaped after Fico was compelled to resign in 2018 over political turmoil surrounding the homicide of an investigative journalist and his fiancée – third on nearly 15%.

Together with his occasion arrange as kingmaker, Peter Pellegrini, the Hlas chief, who has beforehand stated his occasion favoured Smer, stated on Sunday the precedence in negotiations could be a secure coalition and legislative agenda. Talks may final days or perhaps weeks, he stated.

PS, which is liberal on environmental insurance policies and LGBTQ+ and minority rights, and seeks deeper European integration, additionally prompt on Sunday it could strategy Hlas. Its chief, Michal Šimečka, insisted he nonetheless noticed a path to forming a ruling coalition.

“We consider that that is very unhealthy information for Slovakia,” the 39-year-old European parliament vice-chair stated of Smer’s victory. “And it could be even worse information if Robert Fico succeeds in forming a authorities.”

Analysts stated Slovakia’s new ruling coalition would almost definitely be shaped by Smer, Hlas and the nationalist, pro-Russian Slovak Nationwide Occasion (SNS), which might have a slim however functioning majority of 79 seats within the 150-seat parliament.

“If this transpires, a serious assault on the rule of regulation is on the menu – Smer promised ‘vengeance’,” stated Michal Ovádek, a European politics specialist at College School London. “We must wait just a few days to seek out out whether or not it materialises.”

Milan Nič, of the German council on international relations, known as Smer’s victory a “gorgeous political revival for a veteran populist who continues to be entangled in corruption circumstances”, including that Pellegrini would probably be supplied the job of parliamentary speaker.

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The important thing job for the west could be “to not lose Slovakia”, Nič stated on X. It could be important to “have interaction constructively with Fico and handle cracks in assist for Ukraine, as Hungary is now not alone”.

Radoslav Štefančík, an analyst from the College of Economics in Bratislava, stated: “It may possibly’t be dominated out that Fico will likely be on the lookout for a [European] associate who makes use of comparable rhetoric – and that associate will likely be Viktor Orbán.”

Analysts have, nonetheless, stated Fico, who was pragmatic throughout earlier mandates, could cool his rhetoric in a coalition with Hlas, which has stated ammunition provides to Ukraine are good for Slovakia’s trade and backed the EU’s stance on the invasion.

A number of specialists famous that one of many election’s massive surprises was the failure of the far-right Republika occasion, lengthy seen as a possible Smer associate, to clear the 5% threshold for a seat in parliament, regardless of polling at between 7 and 10% for a lot of the 12 months.

In whole, seven events and teams scored excessive sufficient to enter parliament, together with the centrist, anti-corruption OLaNO coalition that received the earlier elections in 2020, the centrist Christian Democrats, and the rightwing SaS.

President Zuzana Čaputová, a former member of Progressive Slovakia and a longtime political rival of Fico, stated she would job him with forming a brand new authorities. “Tomorrow I’ll entrust the formation of the federal government to the winner of the election,” she stated on Sunday.

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