Slovak former Prime Minister and chairman of the Smer-SD party Robert Fico (C) talks to media after Slovakia's parliamentary elections at party's headquarters in Bratislava, Slovakia, 1 October 2023. EFE/EPA/MARTIN DIVISEK

Pro-Russian social democrat politician wins Slovakia election

Prague, Oct 1 (EFE).- The populist social democratic Smer party of pro-Russian former prime minister Robert Fico has won the early parliamentary elections in Slovakia with 23.3 percent of the vote.

Early estimates based on exit polls had the progressive, pro-European PS party, led by European Parliament Vice President Michal Šimečka, as the likely winner, but it ended up in the second place with only 17.1 percent of the vote polled on Saturday..

The third largest party was the moderate social democratic “Voice” (Hlas) of former Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, a former Fico ally, with 14.9%.

After a high voter turnout of 68.51%, compared to 65.80% in the previous elections, a total of seven parties entered the National Council (Parliament), including the nationalist SNS with 5.6%, which had been part of coalitions with the Social Democrats in the past.

The left-wing parties, Fico’s Smer and Pellegrini’s Voice, who have beencoalition partners for two decades, got 37% of the vote, and a third party like SNS would be enough to form a stable coalition.

The leftists, with a social message of defense of the citizen, burdened by high inflation, and also with an anti-immigration rhetoric and critical of the aid to Ukraine, shot up their vote (especially on the side of Smer), which had just reached 18% in the 2020 elections.

For Šimečka’s progressives, their natural coalition partners would be the liberals of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), who won 6.3% of the vote.

Other lists, such as the former ruling OĽaNO, with 8%, or the conservative KDH, with 6.8%, could also join the PS, although analysts predict that this would be more complicated and make a stable coalition more difficult.

Smer was the dominant political force in the country until 2018, when the murder of an investigative journalist who had exposed links between organized crime and the upper echelons of power sparked a wave of outrage that eventually forced Fico’s resignation.EFE