June 23, 2024

The winner of last month’s parliamentary elections in Slovakia has agreed to form a coalition government.

Robert Fico’s populist left-wing Smer-SSD party won the vote with pledges to halt military aid to Ukraine, but denied being pro-Russian.

Mr Fico – who has previously served as Slovakia’s prime minister – signed a deal on Wednesday with the centre-left Hlas and nationalist SNS parties.

Together they will control 79 seats in a 150-seat parliament.

It is not yet known how the parties will fill ministerial posts to form a new government, chaired by Mr Fico, but it seems clear that a key aim will be to end Slovakia’s support for Kyiv.

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“If Smer enters government, we will not send a single round of ammunition to Ukraine,” Mr Fico told supporters during his campaign.

This, as well as his pledge to resist Western sanctions on Russia, caused some onlookers to compare Mr Fico to Hungary’s populist right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Meanwhile, the SNS party – full name: Slovak National Party – is led by the former parliamentary speaker Andrej Danko, who is known to share similar views about the war in Ukraine.

Back in July, he said that some Russian-occupied territories were not “historically Ukrainian”. He has also previously described Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as a “dear friend”.

Migration is another issue that Mr Fico has said he wants to tackle while in office – specifically the number of migrants going to western Europe through Slovakia.

The liberal Progressive Slovakia party, which came second in the election, says it offers a vision of an “open, tolerant, cosmopolitan society” and has advocated following a liberal line within the EU on issues such as green policies and LGBTQ+ rights.

Smer, Mr Fico’s party, dismisses that vision as “liberal fascism”, campaigning on stability, order and social security instead.

Peter Pellegrini, the leader of Hlas – a pro-European party – has made clear that any coalition government he is involved in will keep Slovakia’s basic foreign policy in line with its membership of both Nato and the EU.

“If the government tries to change that, Hlas will leave,” he said before signing the coalition agreement – the full detail of which is yet to be seen.

The AFP news agency cited Mr Fico as saying: “Specific names and ministries will be included in the coalition agreement, which I will present… to the president [Zuzana Čaputová] in a short time”.

Mr Fico was forced to step down as Slovakia’s prime minister in 2018 following the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak.

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