Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Slovak Democracy At Risk, Assassination Attempt of PM

Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Slovak Democracy At Risk, Assassination Attempt of PM

Nicholas Zalewski
An unidentified man attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Fico.

Last Wednesday, Slovakia became the first nation in Europe in over two decades to witness an assassination attempt of a politician. Pro-Russian Prime Minister Robert Fico was struck by four bullets yet has been hanging on since he entered the hospital. His condition is slowly improving but a week later Prime Minister Fico is still not well enough to be transported to a hospital in Bratislava. Due to being struck multiple times in the abdomen, it was unclear initially whether Fico would pull through or not.

The suspect is a 71-year-old citizen who formerly worked as a security guard and published a few collections of poetry. Information available to the public remains vague on the request of the police. There is currently no evidence to suggest that he was motivated to carry out the attack by an extremist political group, though the attack still remains very likely politically motivated. The incident took place in Handlova, a former coal mining town located 90 miles northeast of Bratislava. Prime Minister Fico met with supporters outside a cultural center in the town. After being shot he was quickly shoved into his limousine by security guards and then flown by helicopter to the hospital due to the severity of his injuries and concerns that he would not make it if he were transported by ambulance.

Helicopter which transported Prime Minister Fico to the hospital. Source: AFP

Contentious Elections

There have been concerns over Slovakia’s future due to the recent parliamentary and presidential elections. In both elections, pro-Russian politicians won, Prime Minister Fico and President Peter Pelligrini. For the European Union, this causes problems as now Slovakia’s government is against support for Ukraine and is taking a broad anti-West stance. The Slovak government appears to be reminiscing about the past, ignoring the numerous negative aspects of the Soviet Union. Fico and Pellgirini are leading the nation down a dangerous path, away from democracy and instead into the hands of Putin.

Dramatic photo from the assassination attempt of Prime Minister Fico. Source: Radovan Stoklasa, Reuters

Slovakia’s Autocratic Path

While some blame Fico and Pelligrini for the growing divides in Slovak society, Fico has chosen to blame the media. Prime Minister Fico wants to control the media, starting with public broadcast TV. Fico would transform the public broadcaster once again into a state-run television channel. He maintains that the public broadcaster is not objective to it being in conflict with the Slovak government, yet this appears counter intuitive. Objective media does not blindly agree with every move a government makes, yet instead should analysis whether or not the government is acting in the interest of the people. Fico also dissolved an anti-corruption office. These moves concern the European Union. Rather than working for Slovaks, Fico appears to be working to cement his own political power. It is also important to remember that Fico was previously forced to leave office as Prime Minister in the past due to corruption. He is also linked to the murder of a journalist who was investigating the government when it was led by Fico previously.

These election results may be partially motivated by citizens unsatisfied with Slovakia not yet having achieved economic convergence with wealthier member states. This point of view however ignores the progress that the nation has made economically and ignores that the nation is still significantly better of than it was part of the European Union. While Slovakia’s nominal GDP per capita is expected to reach $33,100 in 2029, Russia’s will reach $15,700, less than half of Slovakia’s. Slovakia’s minimum wage as of January 1st of this year is 750 euros a month, while Russia’s minimum wage is about 200 euros a month. The harsh reality is that Russia’s economy is now behind every single EU member state, including Bulgaria which only joined the European Union in 2007. Slovakia has a brighter future as part of the European Union, not with Russia. Just because Slovakia is not as wealthy as Germany yet does not mean that the nation should seek to return to Russia and withdraw from the European Union. If it does so, Slovakia will see its current economic rise collapse.

Protestors hold sign that translates to “let’s stand up for decent Slovakia”. Source: Vladimir Simicek/ AFP via Getty Images


Slovaks and Europeans in general will have to decide the type of future they want to shape for their children. While Democracy has been held in high regard in Europe, this value is at risk if people start to attempt to assassinate politicians over frustration regarding specific decisions or contentious election results. Simultaneously, hopefully Fico will take this situation and search to redirect Slovakia back to democracy and away from the autocratic path the nation is currently traveling down. This is the perfect moment for him to analyze his previous decisions for Slovakia and whether this is truly the legacy he wants to leave behind. While the West has its flaws, it still is significantly better than Russia, which under Putin remains stuck in the past with the dangerous belief that the Soviet Union can be reconstructed. Rather than try to assassinate him however, it is crucial for citizens to instead turn to participation in elections if they are not satisfied with their current elected officials. Besides voting, citizens need to remember they can run themselves and create new political parties. Regardless of Fico’s positions which may upset some people, his survival of the attack also sends the message that violence is not the answer to political disagreements.

Please Read The Following For More Information:

Szandelszky, Bela., Josek, Petr David, And Jenne, Philipp. “Slovak authorities charge ‘lone wolf’ with assassination attempt on the prime minister” AP News 16 May 2024.

“Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico in “stable but still very serious” condition after assassination attempt” CBS News. 16 May 2024.

Jochecová, Ketrin And Nicholson, Tom. “Slovakia’s Fico plots to dismantle the free press” Politico. 11 May 2024.

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