Party opposed to Ukraine aid tops poll in NATO country's election
The Slovak Social Democracy (SMER-SD) party has won Saturday's parliamentary election, with results from most districts giving it a 6 percentage point lead over its pro-Western rival, Progressive Slovakia.
The SMER-SD party is led by former prime minister Robert Fico, who has vowed to end military aid to Ukraine and publicly criticized the European Union's sanctions on Russia as ineffective and harmful.
“We are a peaceful country,” Fico declared at a rally last week, adding that if his party wins it “will not send a single round [of ammunition] to Ukraine.”
The Progressive Slovakia party, a staunch supporter of EU policies, is the runner up with just over 17% of the vote, with 95% of ballots counted. Its 39-year-old leader Michal Simecka, a vice-president of the European Parliament, campaigned on promises to continue Slovakia’s support for Ukraine.
The pro-European HLAS (Voice) party, is polling third, just short of 15%. It's leader Peter Pellegrini called it a victory and has not ruled out a possible coalition with Fico.
With no party set to win a majority of seats, Slovakia will need to form a coalition government. Other parties that made it over the threshold include the conservative Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), as well as a conservative coalition of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OL’aNO) with the Christian Union and For the People party.
The Slovak National Party also made it past the 5% threshold. Leader Andrej Danko expressed willingness to join a coalition with Fico to “compete with liberalism,” while comparing Simecka to a “hurt puddle.”
The prospect of a Fico-led government has set alarm bells ringing in the EU, where officials in Brussels fear he could join Hungary in challenging the EU consensus on supporting Ukraine, and veto future military aid or vote against additional anti-Russia sanctions packages.
NATO member Slovakia has supplied Kiev with armored personnel carriers, howitzers, and its entire fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets.
However, Fico has made it clear that it would not unquestioningly follow the US lead if elected. Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service claimed last week that to prevent this from happening, Washington was willing to go to any lengths, including blackmail and bribery, to ensure a win for the incumbent Slovak government.