Former Slovakian Prime Minister came out ahead in early counting on Sunday, contrary to exit polls showing a lead for the rival and liberal party: Progressive Slovakia.
With 90.15% of votes in, the SMER-SSD party stood at the first place with 23.69% of the partial votes. Progressive Slovakia is currently at the second place with 15.68%.
Two exit polls earlier showed that PS will win by a slim lead and will likely need the support of smaller parties to form a government in the 150-seat parliament.
The center-left Hlas (Voice) party of Peter Pellegrini, who is a former member of Smer-SD and served as prime minister in 2018-2020, is a close third with 15.43% of the votes.
Hlas could play a decisive role in forming a coalition government. Before the vote, Pellegrini did not express a preference for cooperating with either of the larger parties but added that his party was closer to Fico.
Fico profits by fueling ‘anger’ over pandemic and war
Electoral campaigns have been .
Fico has said if he returns to power Slovakia will continue supporting Ukraine but would not provide arms or ammunition. He has been called pro-Russian by opponents, a criticism he rejects.
A Progressive Slovakia government would maintain Bratislava’s current support for Kyiv.
“Fico benefitted from all that anxiety brought by the (coronavirus) pandemic and the (Ukraine) war, by the anger spreading in Slovakia in the past three years, and fueling that anger,” sociologist Michal Vasecka was cited by the Reuters news agency as saying.
Slovakia has the eurozone’s highest rate of 10% and a financially depleted health system.
Fico has also gained support over dissatisfaction over a center-right coalition whose government collapsed last year, triggering early elections.
sdi/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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