With more than expected votes, leftist party leader and former Prime Minister Robert Fico won the parliamentary elections in Slovakia on Sunday. Fico staged a political comeback after campaigning on a pro-Russian lines and promising to end support for Ukraine in its ongoing war.
According to the Slovak Statistics Office, Fico and his party SMER had 22.9 per cent of the votes after counting 99.98 per cent votes from around 6,000 polling booths.
While, pro-West newcomer and liberal, the Progressive Slovakia party came second with with 18 per cent of the votes.
Though Fico had won the elections, he needs coalition with other parties to form the government.
The left-wing Hlas (Voice) party, led by Peter Pellegrini secured the third position with 14.7 per cent votes. Pellegrini, Fico’s former deputy in SMER parted ways after the party lost 2020 election on charges of corruption and scams.
Pellegrini became the PM after Fico was forced to resign on accusations of involvement in 2018 killing of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee. A possible reunion would be in favour of Fico to gain majority.
A test for Ukraine
Even during the campaigns, Fico was very clear on his stand against support for Ukraine. Ukraine’s prospects of joining the NATO also will be in question with his victory. Fico opposes EU sanctions on Russia as well.
Fico, 59, has vowed to withdraw Slovakia's military support for Ukraine in Russia's war if his attempt to return to power succeeds.
During the invasion, Slovakia was the first country to send air defences to Ukraine. 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."
Instead of sending arms to Kyiv, the EU and the US should use their influence to force Russia and Ukraine to strike a compromise peace deal, Fico had said.
From Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, to S-300 air defense system, helicopters, and armoured vehicles, Slovakia had extended its support to Ukraine. It also took in many refugees from the war-torn country.
It becomes a really testing time for Ukraine as it is becoming difficult for many countries to keep on sending arms. In countries including Spain, France and Germany, populist parties skeptical of intervention in Ukraine also command significant support.
Fico has served as PM in 2006-2010 and again in 2012-2018.
After coming second, Progressive Slovakia party’s Michal Simecka said that “it’s a bad news for Slovakia”. Simecka is also the deputy president of the European Parliament.
"The fact of the matter is that SMER is the winner. And we of course respect that although we think it’s bad news for the country. And it will be even worse news if Mr Fico forms the government,” said Simecka during a press conference.