Slovak populists opposed to Ukraine aid win election

October 02, 2023

BRATISLAVA: A Slovak populist party that wants to stop military aid to Ukraine and is critical of the EU and Nato will be tasked with forming a new government after winning elections.

The Smer-SD party led by former prime minister Robert Fico scored 23 percent in Saturday´s vote, beating the centrist Progressive Slovakia at 18 percent. “Slovakia and the people in Slovakia have bigger problems than (dealing with) Ukraine,” Fico told reporters on Sunday.

He added Ukraine was “a huge tragedy for all” and called for peace talks as “further killing will not help anyone”. During the campaign, the 59-year-old vowed that Slovakia would not send “a single round of ammunition” to Ukraine and called for better ties with Russia.

President Zuzana Caputova, a former member of Progressive Slovakia and a longtime political rival of Fico, said she would task him with forming a new government. “In the spirit of our constitutional tradition, tomorrow I will entrust the formation of the government to the winner of the election,” she said in a statement.

Analysts have said a Fico government could radically change Slovakia´s foreign policy to resemble that of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. But Fico, a leftist former lawyer, said Sunday that Slovakia´s foreign policy focus would not change as “we are naturally EU members”.

“That of course doesn´t mean I can´t criticise things in the EU that I don´t like.” Hungary is seen as a troublemaker in the EU, frequently criticised by Brussels for rule-of-law issues and hampering EU and Nato efforts to help Ukraine.