Why Slovakia's election is crucial for Ukraine

Slovakia shares borders with both Russia and Ukraine

Slovakia-election-robert-fico-afp Leader of Direction - Social Democracy (Smer - SD) party Robert Fico attends an electoral TV debate in Bratislava | AFP

As Slovakia is gearing up for elections to elect its fifth prime minister, the West is keenly watching as it would have a crucial impact on Ukraine. Slovakia has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest allies since the Russian invasion. However, with Kremlin sympathizer Robert Fico's opposition party leading the polls, Ukraine would have to fight the battle against Russia without its help.

During the invasion, Slovakia was the first country to send air defences to Ukraine. Slovakia shares border with the two countries and it has openly welcomed thousands of refugees from the war-hit Ukraine.

If former Prime Minister Fico comes to power, it would definitely affect Slovakia's stance on Ukraine as he had openly stated his disapproval of helping Kyiv in its fight. 

The Parliamentary election is set to be held on Saturday.

Fico has called on the Slovakian government to stop supplying weapons to Kyiv and he had clearly stated if he is elected to power, the country would "not send another round of ammunition."

Fico had served as Slovakia's prime minister for more than a decade, first between 2006 and 2010 and then again from 2012 to 2018. After mass protests erupted following the killing of a journalist and his fiancee, questions were raised over his involvement and later he was forced to resign.

Investigative journalist Jan Kuciak had reported on corruption among country’s elite, including those directly connected to Fico and his party SMER.

In 2020, Fico's SMER party lost to center-right Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO) party. However, OLaNO's leader Igor Matovic ended up disappointing people. Matovic, a self-made millionaire won the election on an anti-corruption campaign with the mission wipe out corruption in Slovakia.

Later, Matovic suffered blows. He had to admit to plagiarizing his masters thesis and infighting was growing within the party. After a year of coming to power, he was forced to step down. During the Covid times, buying Russian vaccines had sparked a rebellion in his coalition government. It later paved way for the collapse of the government in December.

Finance Minister Eduard Heger in Matovic's government was the caretaker prime minister but he too quit in May and was replaced by Ludovit Odor, a technocrat.

With the infighting, failure of the government to take action against corruption and rebellion, SMER party’s chance in the upcoming elections grew strong. Reportedly, SMER still enjoys support from its core voters.

Slovakia has a complicated electoral system and fragmented political scene, with as many as 10 political groupings potentially capable of reaching the 5% threshold needed to enter the parliament, reported CNN.

Even if Figo comes to power, he will need at least one coalition partner. He has still not ruled out working with Republika, an extremist far-right party which claims that the war in Ukraine is a consequence of “NATO’s expansion policy”.

It is said that the current Slovakia’s helping hand towards Ukraine is not agreed by many Slovaks giving an opportunity for SMER and Republika in the elections. Ukraine was delivered armoured vehicles, helicopters, howitzers and other equipment as well. 


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