Exit polls from Slovakia’s parliamentary election on September 30, 2023, showed that the Progressive Slovakia (PS) party, a liberal party, was leading. This result could potentially prevent former Prime Minister Robert Fico, a leftist, from returning to power. Fico had promised to end military aid for Ukraine, while the PS party supported maintaining Slovakia’s strong backing for Ukraine and advocated for liberal policies within the European Union. A government led by Fico would challenge the EU’s consensus on support for Ukraine, which goes against the bloc’s efforts to oppose Russia’s invasion. The formation of a new government would depend on the results of smaller parties, ranging from libertarians to far-right extremists. PS leader Michal Simecka emphasized the importance of these smaller parties in the coalition-building process. According to exit polls, the PS party was projected to win 23.5% of the vote, ahead of Fico’s SMER-SSD party with 21.9%. The incoming government would face the challenge of dealing with a high budget deficit. Political analyst Mikulas Hanes noted that Fico would face difficulties in forming a government if the potential ally, the Slovak National Party (SNS), did not win seats. Any coalition that the PS party could potentially form would likely need to include right-wing or socially conservative parties, which could impact its socially progressive and EU integration agenda. Former Fico party colleague Peter Pellegrini, whose HLAS (Voice) party ranked third in the exit polls, kept his options open for future coalitions but ruled out working with the far-right Republika party. Fico capitalized on dissatisfaction with the previous center-right coalition government and campaigned on concerns about the influx of migrants passing through Slovakia. His pro-Russian views resonated with many Slovaks, reflecting the traditionally warm sentiments towards Moscow. Fico pledged to end military supplies to Ukraine and pursue peace talks, a stance similar to Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban but opposed by Ukraine and its allies. The article was reported by Jan Lopatka, David W. Cerny, and Radovan Stoklasa in Bratislava, with additional reporting by Jason Hovet and Michael Kahn in Prague. The article was written by Michael Kahn and edited by Helen Popper, David Holmes, Leslie Adler, and Daniel Wallis, in accordance with the Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles.
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