Robert Fico’s Smer-SD Emerges as Largest Party Following Slovak Elections

Smer-SD were the clear winners in the election, but Hlas-SD will take the role of kingmaker in the next government. Credit: Freepik.

Bratislava, Oct 1 (CTK) – Former Slovak PM Robert Fico, whose Smer-SD won Saturday’s snap parliamentary elections with over 23% of the vote, will now have the chance to form a government and become prime minister for the fourth time, according to analysis in Slovak media today.

However, it is now Hlas-SD, the party of Peter Pellegrini, another former PM, that will take the role of so-called “king-maker” to decide the composition of the next cabinet. Hlas-SD finished third in the Saturday election after Smer-SD and Progressive Slovakia (PS). Pellegrini served in Smer-SD for many years before leaving the party in 2020, and he was prime minister from 2018 to 2020.

“Robert Fico has defeated Slovakia, or the shape of the country that the majority of the nation imagined after the Velvet Revolution. Today, enough people have come to believe him that liberalism and human rights can be a bigger threat to citizens than rampant corruption and sympathy for Putin’s regime,” wrote the Sme newspaper. Before the election, three-time PM Fico spoke against military aid to Ukraine and Western sanctions against Putin’s Russia.

“Today, a different Fico is reaching for power. He is more motivated by the prosecution of his associates and sponsors of Smer-SD, and supported by more extreme voters,” wrote Sme. “Fear-mongering brought him victory in the end. It will also bring him isolation, especially in democratic Europe, as he is unlikely to change his rhetoric on the terms of peace in Ukraine.” 

According to daily Pravda, Smer-SD were the clear winners in the election, but Pellegrini, leader of Hlas-SD, knows that his party will determine the next government.

“Regardless of who finished first in the election, the stability of the coalition will probably depend on two parties. One of them is Pellegrini’s Hlas-SD, which for a long time did not clearly lean to either side of the political spectrum,” wrote the Novy cas newspaper. In the final days of the election campaign, Pellegrini’s statements indicated that his party was highly likely to choose to side with Smer-SD.

However, in a televised debate today, Pellegrini refused to say whether his party would prefer cooperation with Smer-SD or PS.

“I think Slovakia will not know the result today or tomorrow, it will be days of negotiations,” he said. “The situation is not so dramatic that we have to close the negotiations in 48 hours.” 

Pellegrini said a coalition of three parties would be more stable than a four-party coalition. Smer-SD and Hlas-SD would have a majority in the lower house if they could get one other partner, such as the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS), to cooperate. To form a majority government without Smer-SD, Hlas-SD would need three more parties.

Milan Majersky, chairman of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), said his party’s position of not cooperating with Smer-SD still applied, and that any change of position would have to be approved by the party’s relevant body. KDH is returning to the parliament after two terms away.

Michal Simecka, leader of PS, which finished second with about 17% of the vote and is entering parliament for the first time, reiterated that his main objective is to prevent the emergence of a Smer-SD government.

This was described as unrealistic by Igor Matovic, the leader of Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO), previously the largest parliamentary party, who has long been opposed to both Smer-SD and Hlas-SD. OLaNO, running in a coalition with two other parties, won nearly 9% of the vote in the Saturday elections, but OLaNO alone had won the previous elections in 2020 with 25% of the vote. Matovic today confirmed that OLaNO is heading into opposition.

“Robert Fico won the election and he won’t let it go. Democratic Slovakia has lost,” Dennik N wrote.

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