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Fico loses majority as ultranationalists enter Slovakia’s parliament

Despite prime minister Robert Fico's increasingly strident anti-immigration line, a minority of Slovakian voters turned to a virtually neo-Nazi party in March 5 elections. (Facebook)
Despite prime minister Robert Fico’s increasingly strident anti-immigration line, a minority of Slovakian voters turned to a virtually neo-Nazi party in March 5 elections. (Facebook)

It’s not just the United States and western Europe facing down the threat of xenophobia.slovakia flag

Slovakia’s voters on Saturday delivered a victory to prime minister Robert Fico and the center-left Smer–sociálna demokracia, (Direction/Social Democracy), which has governed Slovakia since a landslide win in 2012.


But Fico, who lost a 2014 presidential bid to businessman Andrej Kiska, saw his majority eliminated, and Smer-SD will hold just 49 of the 150 seats in the Národná rada (National Council).


Meanwhile, an openly ultranationalist, far-right party, Ľudová strana – Naše Slovensko (L’SNS, People’s Party/Our Slovakia), accurately described as a neo-Nazi party, won 8% of the vote and 14 seats in the new parliament after waging a campaign attacking not only the waves of African and Middle Eastern migrants arriving in Europe, but NATO, the European Union, the European security alliance with the United States and same-sex unions.  Continue reading Fico loses majority as ultranationalists enter Slovakia’s parliament

Kiska elected president of Slovakia in setback for Fico


Robert Fico’s attempt to extend his control over both the Slovakian parliament and presidency failed Saturday, when former businessman and philanthropist Andrej Kiska (pictured above) overwhelmingly defeated Fico in the second-round runoff.slovakia flag

Though Fico narrowly led in the first round, Kiska won a decisive victory with 59.38% of the vote. Fico, the incumbent prime minister, won just 40.61%. Kiska, an electrical engineer by training, made his fortune in the installment payments / credit business. Eight years ago, he founded Dobrý anjel (Good Angel), a charitable organization that helps provide funds for the seriously ill.

Kiska’s victory parallels the rise of Andrej Babiš, also a former businessman, who became the deputy prime minister and finance minister of the Czech Republic after his new center-right party nearly won last October’s Czech parliamentary elections. Babiš, interestingly enough, is Slovak by birth. Though Kiska will have a relatively circumscribed role in Slovak politics, due to the largely ceremonial nature of the Slovak presidency, the emergence of figures like Kiska and Babiš could augur the rise of a new, pragmatic center-right in central Europe whose leaders come from the business world and not from the fraught economics and tainted politics (on both the right and the left of the immediate post-Cold War period).

Fico, the leader of Slovakia’s main center-left party, Smer – sociálna demokracia (Direction — Social Democracy), has led the country’s government for six of the past eight years. His defeat on Saturday will undoubtedly weaken his position as prime minister, given that his critics can argue the election was a referendum on Fico’s record. Smer won’t face voters again until 2016, but it was Fico’s choice to contest the presidential election, making his defeat on Sunday almost entirely self-inflicted.  Continue reading Kiska elected president of Slovakia in setback for Fico

Fico, Kiska advance to Slovak presidential runoff


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.slovakia flag

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