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News > Slovakia

Slovakia Holds Elections After 5-Year Political Crisis

  • A political rally in Slovakia in early September, 2023.

    A political rally in Slovakia in early September, 2023. | Photo: X/ @DerekMaher3

Published 29 September 2023

The candidate who leads the voting intention polls maintains a nationalist position and opposes continuing aid to Ukraine.

On Saturday, Slovakia is gearing up for early elections after five tumultuous years that witnessed four different prime ministers and a wave of corruption-related arrests.


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The nationalist message of former Prime Minister Robert Fico is currently the front-runner, contrasting with the pro-European liberalism of Michal Simecka.

In 2018, the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, who exposed the links between political and economic power and organized crime, sparked a series of anti-government protests that eventually led to Fico's resignation. It also ignited a demand for democratic renewal and the fight against corruption in the streets.

Following the 2020 elections, a government composed of four parties was formed, but it gradually lost popular support and faced internal conflicts amidst a chaotic handling of the COVID pandemic. In December of 2022, the government lost a vote of confidence, paving the way for a technocratic government that has been in charge of the country since then.

Currently, opinion polls indicate that Fico, who led the government on four occasions (between 2006 and 2010, and between 2012 and 2018), could receive 21percent of the votes.

He and his party, SMER, a member of the social-democratic group in the European Parliament, particularly appeal to Slovaks who have been hit hard by high inflation, one of the highest in the European Union (EU), especially in rural areas.

Fico advocates for Slovakia to discontinue its significant military support to Ukraine and considers European sanctions against Moscow as futile.

Even if his party wins, Fico may struggle to secure a majority among the 150 parliamentarians, as polls suggest that up to nine different parties could enter Parliament, with four of them teetering on the 5 percent minimum vote threshold established by law.

In recent months, Slovakia has witnessed arrests within its intelligence services, police, and prosecution office, all accused of corrupt practices.

The murder of Kuciak, for which no one has been convicted as the mastermind, and the wave of outrage it generated, have faded as campaign topics. Instead, economic consequences of the pandemic, the Ukrainian war, illegal immigration, and LGBTI rights have taken center stage.

Fico has adjusted his message to appeal to more conservative and disadvantaged segments of the population and has capitalized on the still strong pro-Russian sentiment among some citizens. While suspicions of corruption within SMER concern some Slovaks, others place more weight on the party's promise of law and order and Fico's experience as a manager.

In second place in the polls is Progressive Slovakia, led by the European Parliament Vice President Michal Simecka, with 16 percent support. This party garners the support of younger and urban populations and positions itself as a guardian of European values, much like the current president, Zuzana Caputova, who won the 2019 elections on a similar platform.

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