Sunday, May 26, 2024
HomeE.U.Polling stations open for voting in Slovakia

Polling stations open for voting in Slovakia

Slovakia is at the critical juncture. The West is closely watching the election because who takes the presidential seat will determine whether the country will help Ukraine or side with Moscow, according to The Guardian.

After an election campaign that included various phenomena (physical brawls and amid a wave of online disinformation), populist and nationalist three-time Prime Minister Robert Fico and his Smer-SD party were on par with Progressive Slovakia, and in two of the last four opinion polls PS was ahead of them.

Third place, however, is held by Hlas-SD, a party created as a spin-off of Smer by Peter Pellegrini, who took over as prime minister after Fico was forced to resign in 2018 following the journalist murder case.

Fico has become more principled and unapologetic in opposition. He holds more pro-Russian views, diverging from the centre-right coalition that ruled the country after the previous election in 2020. Robert Fico has been adamant that he would not support supplying arms for Ukraine against Russia, calling Western and EU sanctions against Moscow “useless” and vowing to veto any Ukrainian claim to join NATO.

War always comes from the West. And freedom and peace always come from the east, he said at a rally this week.

He has also made a speech against immigration and LGBTQ+ rights and, having been the subject of several judicial investigations himself, has threatened to fire National Crime Agency investigators and a special prosecutor handling high-level corruption cases.

More moderate voters have flocked to the PS party, which is currently led by Michal Šimečka, a 39-year-old Oxford University political science graduate and European parliament vice-chair. Unlike the Fico party, he has run a strongly pro-Western campaign, pledging closer European co-operation and continued aid to Ukraine. Michal Šimečko is a rare example in conservative Catholic Slovakia of a pro-LGBTQ+ candidate.

Popular among young people, PS failed to win seats in parliament in the 2020 elections. It has said it is open to carry on cooperation with small conservative parties, although differences on social policy issues such as same-sex marriage could lead to an obstacle.

Other parties that could break the 5 per cent barrier to enter parliament consist of OLaNO, which won the 2020 election, the right-wing We Are Family, the liberal Freedom and Solidarity, the centrist For the People, Republika and the ultranationalist Slovak National Party.

Polling stations opened at 7am CET and will close at 10pm. Final results will be summarized on Sunday morning.


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