Peter Pellegrini: Close ally of pro-Russia PM Fico to be Slovakia's president

Pellegrini secured 53.85 per cent of the vote

Slovakia presidential elections Slovakia's presidential candidate Peter Pellegrini speaks at his headquarters | Reuters

A close ally of pro-Russia populist Prime Minister Robert Fico, Peter Pellegrini,  won the Slovakia presidential elections. Pellegrini will succeed Zuzana Caputov, the country's first female head of state. 

According to officials, Pellegrini, 48, received 53.85 per cent of the vote with the ballots from over 98 per cent of polling stations. While pro-Western career diplomat opposition candidate, Ivan Korcok, was only able to get 46.14 per cent of the votes. 

Korcok conceded the defeat and congratulated the winner. "I'm disappointed," said Korcok. “I want to express my belief that Peter Pellegrini will be independent and will act according to his convictions and without orders,” he added.

Pellegrini became Slovakia's sixth president since the country gained independence after the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

While speaking in Bratislava, Pellegrini said that he would ensure that Slovakia remains on the side of peace and not on the side of war. 

Pellegrini's successor Caputova was a strong backer of neighbouring Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion. She received several death threats for taking the stand against Russia amid the war. Caputova announced last June that she will not be running for re-election. 

Raising concerns, Fico, who came to power last August, has already adopted pro-Russian views on policies and initiated reforms of criminal law and the media. The new government immediately halted the arms sales to Ukraine. 

Slovak presidents have the power to veto laws or challenge them in the constitutional court, though they don't have the executive powers. Presidents nominate the constitutional court judges as well. 

Parliamentary speaker Pellegrini said that his victory meant the government would have support for its aims. 

Korcok, however, took a stand against Russia and was highly critical of the government's move as well. Korcok is the former ambassador to the United States and Germany, who also served as the country's envoy to NATO and the European Union. 

In 2018, Pellegrini, who was Fico's former deputy in Smer, had to step into the shoes and became the prime minister when Fico was forced to resign following massive protests over the death of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee. 


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp