Slovakia’s former Prime Minister Robert Fico, who leads the pro-Russian Smer-SD party, has claimed victory in the parliamentary election held on Saturday, October 1, 2023. However, he faces a challenge to form a stable government as his party fell short of a majority and most of the other parties have ruled out joining him in a coalition.
Fico, who resigned in 2018 amid mass protests over the murder of an investigative journalist, has made a comeback by appealing to voters who are dissatisfied with the current ruling coalition of four liberal and centrist parties. He has also campaigned on strengthening ties with Russia and China, criticizing the European Union and NATO, and opposing immigration and LGBT rights .
According to preliminary results, Fico’s Smer-SD party won 25.3% of the vote, followed by the liberal Progressive Slovakia party with 16.7%, the conservative Ordinary People party with 15.9%, and the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia with 9.6% . The remaining seats were divided among five smaller parties, including the Greens, the Pirates, and the ethnic Hungarian Most-Hid party .
Fico said he was ready to start talks with potential coalition partners, but he admitted that it would not be easy to find a majority in the 150-seat parliament . He said he would prefer to form a government with the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia, which shares his anti-immigration and anti-EU stance, but he did not rule out other options .
However, most of the other parties have rejected the possibility of joining Fico in a coalition, citing his involvement in several corruption scandals and his authoritarian tendencies . The leader of the Progressive Slovakia party, Michal Truban, said he would try to form an alternative coalition with the Ordinary People party and other pro-Western and pro-democratic forces . He said he hoped to prevent Fico from returning to power and damaging Slovakia’s reputation in Europe .
The election results reflect the deep divisions in Slovakia’s society over issues such as foreign policy, democracy, rule of law, and social values . They also show the dissatisfaction of many voters with the current ruling coalition, which has been plagued by internal disputes and public discontent over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis .
The outcome of the coalition talks will have significant implications for Slovakia’s future direction and its relations with its allies and neighbors. If Fico manages to form a government with the support of the far-right party, he could pursue a more confrontational stance towards the EU and NATO, as well as a closer alignment with Russia and China. This could undermine Slovakia’s security and stability, as well as its integration with the rest of Europe . On the other hand, if Truban succeeds in forming a government with other liberal and centrist parties, he could continue to promote Slovakia’s pro-Western orientation and democratic reforms. This could enhance Slovakia’s credibility and cooperation with its partners in Europe and beyond .