The country that has really felt the consequences of the war in neighboring Ukraine will go to the polls on Saturday.
Over the past year, Slovakia has struggled with grain exports, Illegal immigration And high electricity prices.
Progressive and Urban Party
Politics in the country is characterized by an urban-rural dynamic, with the two parties that are top in the polls targeting two very different social groups.
The progressive, youthful and liberal party “Progressive Slovakia” (PS) appeals to the country’s urban, educated and young people, and among other things wants to promote LGBT rights and women’s rights.
The leader, Michal Simica, is 39 years old, a former journalist and Vice-President of the European Parliament.
According to Eva Sarvi, senior lecturer in East European Studies at UiO, the party has built itself up as a serious party in a very short time:
– The Socialist Party is liberal towards minorities and has European orientations. There are young and urban people in the party, most of whom are women. Al-Sarfi says that the party has a clear position and a clear program.
She adds: They built this without playing on nationalism.
Nationalism as a competitor
The main competitor in the elections is the Populist Party Tinge, Led by 59-year-old Robert Fico, who has served as prime minister three times before.
Samir is built on social democratic values, combining socialism and nationalism. They advocate both welfare and stricter immigration policy:
– We at Smir refuse to “get used to” illegal immigration, high prices, and the low standard of living of people in Slovakia, Fico said in a statement. TV debate Tuesday.
Fico’s populism particularly appeals to conservatives – people who have been hard hit by high costs, who are critical of the war and who were dissatisfied with the previous government.
A friend of Putin?
Recently, there have been reports in the Western press that Fico could take Slovakia in a direction more friendly to Putin and hostile to Ukraine, due to statements like this:
– If Samir becomes part of the government, we will not send weapons or ammunition to Ukraine again, Fico told AP reporters recently.
And such statements To Reuters news agency:
We reject statements and positions that state that the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is our conflict as well.
Issues related to the war and its consequences show a clear division between PS and Samir. The Socialist Party has taken a typically Western-oriented line, while Fico has made clear that he will stop military support for Ukraine if he comes to power.
Slovakia provided fighter jets, military helicopters, missiles, air defense and ammunition to Ukraine, According to Reuters.
Fico criticized the sanctions imposed on Russia, and pointed to the consequences they had on Slovakia, which suffered, among other things, from high electricity prices. Quoted by Reuters news agency.
Elisabeth Bakke is a researcher at UiO, who has conducted research on Slovakia. She believes that Fico’s speech on Russia is not about his desire to pursue a Putin-friendly policy, but rather that Fico wants to prioritize his population economically.
Buck explains that even if Fico wanted to stop arms support for Ukraine, he would continue to provide support Humanity supports.
The Joker is the breakaway party of Halas
But neither Samir nor PS can rule alone. The third major party, Halas, is a breakaway party from Samir. But it is uncertain who they will form a coalition government with, and exactly what political line they will take with Ukraine:
Halas has the potential to become a “kingmaker,” says Buck.
– I do not think it is possible to leave Halas in the government. Either Samir or PS will be the biggest.
Neither Pak nor Sarvi at UiO believe the country will see a complete turnaround with the change of government. Because no party is large enough to govern alone, it must compromise with other parties.
He was forced to resign due to the journalist’s murder
Fico previously held the position of Prime Minister, but was forced to resign after his government entered into a crisis of confidence.
The crisis erupted when a former Slovakian soldier shot and killed 27-year-old journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend in 2018.
Kuciak was a well-known journalist in Slovakia, who worked to expose a network allegedly involved in corruption and organized crime. The network includes several people from the country’s political elite, in addition to well-known businessmen.
The soldier who took responsibility for the journalist’s killing said that the killing was ordered by a businessman who claimed to be innocent.
The murder led to demonstrations across Slovakia, and Fico was forced to resign as Prime Minister.
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