Elections Slovakia

Slovakia sees EU election upset, as liberals beat Fico

| 2024-06-10 2 min read

Slovakia sees EU election upset, as liberals beat Fico

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico faced an unexpected setback in the EU elections against the opposition liberals on Sunday, following a recent assassination attempt that left him severely wounded, according to his party.

An opponent of military assistance to Ukraine in its conflict against Russian forces, Fico, 59, had been considered the frontrunner in recent polls, which suggested a surge in support for his party following the attempt on his life.

However, Progressive Slovakia (PS) over the weekend emerged victorious with 27.81% of the votes, securing 6 seats in the European Parliament (EP), local media reported. Smer-SD trailed closely behind with 24.76%, earning five seats in the 720-member EU assembly. Far-right Republika secured the third position with 12.535 of the votes and 2 MEPs, according to the results. Has and KDH each secured a single MEP. Turnout for the EP election, notoriously low in Slovakia, was higher than in previous years, nearing 35%.

Slovakia European Parliament election seats, * June 2024/ Source: Europe Elects

Sympathy for Fico does not translate into votes

Fico was shot four times at close range on May 15 while greeting supporters after a government meeting. The alleged gunman, identified as 71-year-old poet Juraj Cintula by Slovak media, has been charged with premeditated attempted murder and is in custody.

Fico blamed his opponents for inciting the “hatred” that led to the attack. Political analyst Daniel Kerekes noted that the attack had spurred both Smer-SD and Progressive Slovakia supporters to vote. He added that opposition parties, particularly PS, had capitalised on voter concerns about the febrile political situation in Slovakia.

On Saturday Fico wrote on Facebook that “I voted in the hospital because this election is important too. It is necessary to vote for MEPs who will support peace initiatives and not the continuation of war. Consent of Western countries to give Ukraine to use Western weapons to attack targets on Russian territory is just a proof that great Western democracies do not want peace, but an escalation of tensions with the Russian Federation, which will surely happen.

“As the prime minister of the Republic of Slovakia, I will not drag Slovakia into any similar military adventures and within our small Slovak capabilities, I will do everything so that peace gets priority over war,” Fico added.

PS chief – Slovakia is polarised

PS chairman Michal Simecka, a former EP vice-president, said Slovak voters had sent “a very important message to this government: slow down, because you cannot do whatever you want”, adding that “the result of Smer and Republic confirms that society is polarised.”

Simecka posted on Facebook on Sunday evening that “It was confirmed that we can beat Smer in Slovakia. We have to anchor PS properly in every region of Slovakia (and) at the same time develop a comprehensive programme for the future of Slovakia.

“It turned out that a quality candidate with experienced politicians and excellent new reinforcements for Slovak politics, can appeal to people (and) the way to victory does not have to be only lies or hysterical bashing of others. Compared to 2019, we managed to approximately double the number of votes for PS. We’re well on our way, and we need to take more.”