Slovak prime minister Robert Fico led in the first round of the country’s presidential election on Saturday, but he’ll face stiff competition in the March 29 runoff from political neophyte Andrej Kiska.
Fico won 28.0% of the vote and Kiska took 24.0% — both contenders were expected to finish in the top two spots and advance to the final round. The big surprise in Saturday’s election, however, was the strength of third-place finisher Radoslav Procházka, a Christian democratic independent who won 21.2% of the vote. Milan Kňažko, an actor, also a Christian democrat, and a top Slovak leader of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, won 12.9% of the vote.
The results mean that Fico (pictured above) will face a very tough time winning an absolute majority against Kiska in two weeks’ time.
The outcome of the election itself isn’t as significant as the surrounding context. Slovakia’s presidency is essentially ceremonial, though the president formally nominates the prime minister and some members of Slovakia’s constitutional court and other judicial offices. Though the president can veto routine bills passed by the unicameral Národná rada (National Council), a simple majority of the National Council can override the presidential veto.
That means that the Slovak presidency is much more like the ceremonial German presidency instead of the truly powerful French presidency — and even, from a constitutional perspective, weaker than the Czech presidency.
Accordingly, the election is important for two reasons. First, the election has now become a referendum on Fico and his governing center-left party, Smer – sociálna demokracia (Direction — Social Democracy).
Second, if Fico wins, his elevation to the presidency will necessitate the selection of a new prime minister and government. Continue reading Fico, Kiska advance to Slovak presidential runoff