In a surprising twist, preliminary election results in Slovakia have revealed a victory for a pro-Kremlin party, potentially challenging NATO and EU unity regarding the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
A Surprise Outcome
The results, released by Slovakia’s Statistical Office, show Robert Fico’s populist SMER party leading with 22.9% of the vote, surpassing the liberal and pro-Ukrainian party, Progressive Slovakia (PS), which garnered 17.9%.
This unexpected outcome has left many political pundits scratching their heads, and it also raises questions about the future direction of Slovakian foreign policy. In a post-victory statement, Fico announced his intention to play a pivotal role in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, asserting, “More killing is not going to help anyone”.
However, Ukraine might not take kindly to these overtures, as they could involve territorial concessions to Russia, a proposal Kyiv finds untenable. Adding to potential strains, Fico plans to terminate Slovak military assistance to Ukraine and hinder Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO, marking a sharp deviation from Slovakia's previously firm support for Ukraine.
Following the results, Michal Šimečka, the leader of PS, expressed his concerns: “The fact of the matter is that SMER is the winner. And it will be even worse news if Mr. Fico forms the government,” signaling a potentially turbulent political atmosphere.
On the other hand, Slovakia’s President Zuzana Čaputová had previously stated that the leader of the majority party would be given the initial opportunity to form the government. With Fico's party emerging victorious, he stands poised to shape the nation's political landscape.
However, Šimečka has hinted at a united opposition front, stating his party would explore every option to prevent Fico from governing. He emphasized the importance of safeguarding the nation's democracy, rule of law, and international standing, expressing fears about the potential impacts on Slovakia's economy and finances.
Amidst this political fray, Peter Pellegrini of Hlas voiced satisfaction with the election results, hinting at the party's potential role as kingmaker. “The results so far show that Hlas will be a party without which it will be impossible to form any kind of normal, functioning coalition government,” he opined.