- Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Portugal Sued By Environmental Groups - December 5, 2023
- Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Rogue Three Member States And Truck Queues - November 26, 2023
- Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Spaniards Take To The Streets - November 20, 2023
The fears of some in the West have been realized this past weekend. On Saturday September 30th, 23.37 percent of Slovakians who participated in the elections voted for SMER-SSD, led by Robert Fico. This party has the unique distinction of being a populist far-left party that has been labelled as pro-Putin. The term populism is constantly brought up when discussing far-right political parties in Europe which are against migration, but this is not the case in Slovakia. Instead, SMER-SSD is a far-left political party which supports Vladimir Putin instead of President Zelenskyy and Ukraine.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is considered to also be a pro-Russian politician, congratulated Robert Fico on his party’s success in the election. Due to receiving the most votes, SMER-SSD will have the first opportunity to attempt to create a ruling coalition. One potential option is forming a coalition with the HLAS party which is considered a pro-European party, along with the nationalist Slovak National Party. This party split off from SMER-SSD in 2020. If formed this coalition would likely require several compromises between the two parties and help Slovakia avoid a ruling government that is too extreme.
Slovakia has been supportive of Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereignty as many EU member states have since the invasion started last year. This may change however in the near future. Before the election, Slovakia’s ruling coalition collapsed, and a caretaker government was formed until the elections were held. Robert Fico has been quoted as stating that “Not a single round” of ammunition would be sent to Ukraine from Slovakia if he and his party were elected. In addition, Fico claimed he would threaten to veto any attempt to invite Ukraine to join NATO.
Born to a working-class family, Fico earned his law degree in 1986 and joined the Communist party in Slovakia. After the fall of communism in Slovakia, Robert Fico worked as a government lawyer and was elected to the Parliament as a member of the party that directly descended from the communist party. Robert Fico appears to attempt to model himself after Viktor Orban as he admires Orban for defending the interests of Hungarians instead of focusing on Ukraine. It has yet to be seen how successful Orban has been however considering inflation in Hungary in August of this year was 14.2 percent, the highest of any member state. Slovakia’s inflation rate was 9.6 percent, the third highest in the EU. Both nations are struggling with inflation, yet having a pro-Russian stance does not seem to have helped Orban.
Technocrat Government Assumed Power Before Election
Before the election takes place for the National Council, the Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová appointed experts instead of politicians to lead the government. This is the first time ever that a technocrat government will lead Slovakia. This is not an unusual decision coming from President Čaputová. Zuzana Čaputová herself is not a career politician but instead had a career in civil society. As political parties quarreled for months rather than focus on creating a coalition government keeping Slovak citizens in mind, President Čaputová took it upon herself to appoint experts which she felt would put the nation first instead of advancing their own careers. Ľudovít Ódor, was previously the vice-governor of Slovakia’s Central Bank before being tapped by the Slovakian President to lead the caretaker government. Exactly like Ódor, all other members of the caretaker government came from non-political careers. It will be interesting to see how Slovakia fares under a potential coalition government led by Robert Fico in comparison to how the nation did under this caretaker government.
Slovakia’s Past Government Scandals
Slovak voters may have been relieved that for a few months before the elections experts ran the government rather than politicians motivated to maintain their political careers. The Slovak government has been unstable since 2020. This is when SMER-SSD (Direction- Slovak Social Democracy) was voted out in the parliamentary elections. Robert Fico who served as Prime Minister when the party was in power was known for being involved in various scandals and was combative with the media. In 2018, he was forced to step down due to accusations of corruption. In 2020, he was voted out potentially due to the murders of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. Kuciak was investigating potential tax fraud of members of the Slovak government and potential links with ‘Ndrangheta, an organized crime group in Italy. He rebranded his party during the pandemic in an attempt to win over voters once again by being critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic. Fico was anti mask and vaccines, which seems a bit peculiar for a former communist.
This election shows that the European Union and the national governments of member states need to prove they are concerned about the problems citizens face rather than appear to place all of their energy and resources into Ukraine. If not, more politicians similar to Robert Fico may be elected which may cause national governments to seize all support for Ukraine, rather than easing off a little. Ukraine would still benefit from less support from the European Union and its member states rather than no support if EU citizens take out their fatigue regarding on economic conditions to the polls. As this has been observed this past Saturday in Slovakia, it is impossible to remain naïve and think that this is not possible. Considering the fact that Robrt Fico had to step down over corruption concerns in the past, it will be interesting to watch if history repeats itself or if Fico will be able to turn over a new leaf and lead a clean government.
Please Read The Following For More Information: