Slovak liberal party Progressive Slovakia seen leading election -exit polls
Slovak liberal party Progressive Slovakia (PS) led a parliamentary election on Saturday, exit polls showed, potentially blocking former leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico from returning to power after he pledged to end military aid for neighbouring Ukraine.
Slovak liberal party Progressive Slovakia (PS) led a parliamentary election on Saturday, exit polls showed, potentially blocking former leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico from returning to power after he pledged to end military aid for neighbouring Ukraine. The PS party has advocated maintaining Slovakia's strong backing for Ukraine and would likely follow a liberal line within the European Union on issues such as majority voting to make the bloc more flexible, green policies and LGBTQ+ rights.
A government led by Fico and his SMER-SSD party would see the NATO member nation joining Hungary in challenging the European Union's consensus on support for Ukraine, just as the bloc looks to maintain unity in opposing Russia's invasion. With no party projected to win an outright majority, forming a new government will hinge on results for more than half a dozen smaller parties, from libertarians to far-right extremists -- a scenario PS leader Michal Simecka underlined following the release of the exit polls.
"It will apparently be very close, between us and SMER, but also for those parties that may or may not get into parliament," Simecka said. Progressive Slovakia was seen winning 23.5% of the vote, ahead of 21.9% for three-time prime minister Fico's SMER-SSD party, an exit poll by Focus agency for TV Markiza showed.
A second exit poll by Median agency for public broadcaster RTVS showed the liberal party winning 19.97% of the vote, ahead of 19.09% for Fico's party in the nation of 5.5 million. The incoming government in the nation of 5.5. million will take over a ballooning budget deficit forecast to be the highest in the euro zone.
Mikulas Hanes, a political analyst at NMS Market Research Slovensko, said the exit poll by Focus showed Fico will have difficulty forming a government as potential ally the Slovak National Party (SNS) looked uncertain to win seats. "If it does, it will be a fight for every single deputy," he said.
Any coalition that PS could potentially form would likely need to include more right-wing or socially conservative parties, which would blunt its socially progressive and EU integration drive. Former Fico party colleague Peter Pellegrini, whose HLAS (Voice) party sat third in exit polls, kept his options open on future coalitions but ruled out working with the far-right Republika party when speaking to reporters on live television after the initial projections came out.
Fico has ridden on dissatisfaction with a bickering centre-right coalition whose government collapsed last year, triggering the election six months early. In campaigning, he stressed concern about a rise in the number of migrants passing through Slovakia to Western Europe. Fico's pro-Russian views reflect traditionally warm sentiments towards Moscow among many Slovaks, which have gathered strength on social media since the Ukraine war started.
Fico has pledged to end military supplies to Ukraine and to strive for peace talks - a line close to that of Hungary's leader Viktor Orban but rejected by Ukraine and its allies, who say this would only encourage Russia.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)