Slovakia: The Fico-Pellegrini Alliance Emerges Victorious Again

Politics - October 5, 2023

The Far Left Between Putin and Covid Returns to the Spotlight

The elections in Slovakia have seen the country take a step back in its political history. Regardless of the judgment, which we will explore because of its critical nature from a conservative perspective, the electoral victory of Robert Fico will bring him back to the helm of the nation’s government for the third time in the last 17 years.

Starting with the results, the first party in the elections was led by Fico (Smer, S&D) with 22.95% of the votes, followed by the progressives (PS, RE) at 17.96%, and the party formed by former Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Hlas, associated with PSE) at 14.70%. Fico and Pellegrini, therefore, secured over 37% of the votes but 69 seats out of 150, so they only need 7 seats to achieve a stable majority.

However, this majority will need to be somewhat “broadened.” The other parties, besides the progressives, include OL’aNO (PPE), a conservative party that performed poorly in the elections, dropping from 25% in 2020 to 8% in 2023, the Christian Democrats of KDH (PPE), the liberals of SaS (ECR), and the nationalists of SNS (non-affiliated). OL’aNO and SaS were both faithful allies in the Matovic government. Still, they gradually severed ties, leading to a government crisis coinciding with early elections, as the original term was set for 2024.

The decline of conservatives is evident: in 2020, OL’aNO stood at 25.03% and managed to form a government with SaS (6.22%) and the SR (ID) and ZL (non-affiliated) parties, which received 8.24% and 5.77%, respectively. This coalition collectively represented 45.26% of the voters. In the current elections, these four parties received a total of 17.43%. To this, we can add the KDH (6.82%), Republika (ultranationalists) at 4.75%, and ALI (PPE, pro-Hungarian) at 4.39% from the center-right camp. However, the percentage still falls below 40% of the votes.

When forming a government, OL’aNO, KDH, and SaS joining a coalition with Fico and Pellegrini is out of the question, given their strong opposition to them just three years ago. The possibilities lie with PS and SNS. Despite being ideologically closer to PS, observers lean towards a government between social democrats and nationalists. What could unite them are their policies regarding Ukraine and COVID-19.

The reasons behind Slovaks giving their trust back to Fico and Pellegrini seem to revolve around these two issues. Besides criticizing the infighting among center-right parties during their (short) time in government, which was the main reason for the shift of votes from Right to Left, Slovaks seem to favor a reduction in aid to Ukraine (a key point in the rhetoric of both Fico-Pellegrini and SNS) and have criticized the handling of the post-pandemic phases.

The situation is evidently critical: a government comprising “the three lefts,” Smer-PS-Hlas, would have a majority that could even change the constitution. However, PS has a pro-Western stance incompatible with the nationalist propaganda led primarily by Fico. A government of Smer-Hlas-SNS would be less ideologically coherent but more stable, as they share all critical program points.

It should not be assumed that this result will produce significant upheavals on the European political scene. Ukraine’s proximity remains a key focus of the political agenda for the vast majority of Western countries and NATO. It is not conceivable that Slovakia’s change of course would result in a collapse of all decisions made by EU member states.

However, there has been a significant setback in the rise of conservatives, the second one, this time much more pronounced, following their failure in Spain. In this case, the challenger is not an outgoing Prime Minister with high international popularity but a highly controversial political figure.

During his last term, the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée occurred. Kuciak’s recent articles exposed a significant tax fraud scheme operated by individuals closely connected to Fico, as well as a crucial link between several ministers and the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta. This criminal organization allegedly exploited the Slovak government’s leniency to improperly seize European funds intended for Union nations in need of development. The arrests made in connection with this case involved some members of the “Vadalà” clan.

The fact that individuals involved in tax frauds against citizens and, worse yet, in criminal networks with the mafia are re-elected with popular support should be seen as a significant defeat for conservatives. It’s crucial to reclaim the themes that are inherently ours: Law and Order.