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Thursday January 27, 2022

Anti-graft party wins Slovakia polls

By AFP
March 02, 2020

BRATISLAVA: Slovak voters handed a resounding victory to the centre-right, anti-graft OLaNO opposition party in Saturday´s general election, dominated by an angry backlash over the 2018 murder of a journalist probing corruption in the eurozone state.

Having vowed to immediately push through anti-corruption measures when in office, OLaNO leader Igor Matovic galvanised voter outrage over the murder of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee, and the high-level graft their deaths exposed.

Allegedly a hit ordered by a businessman with connections to politicians, the killings have become a lightning rod for public outrage at graft in public life.

“People want us to clean up Slovakia. They want us to make Slovakia a fair country where laws will apply to everyone,” Matovic told reporters as near full results showed his party had skyrocketed to victory.

“It was the death of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova that woke up Slovakia,” he said, vowing later in the night that his administration will have “zero tolerance for corruption.”

Outgoing Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini conceded defeat as near full partial results showed OLaNO outpacing his populist-left Smer-SD by six percentage points.“Congratulations to the election winner, good health, good luck,” Pellegrini told Matovic, adding “he has good marketing, but we will be interested in how he will handle his office.” OLaNO took 24.96 percent for 52 seats and could possibly clinch a majority of 77 or more in the 150-member parliament, near full results showed.

Matovic said he would seek talks with the We Are Family conservatives who scored 8.26 percent for 17 seats as well as the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party and the fellow liberal “For the People” party of ex-president Andrej Kiska — which got 13 and 12 seats respectively.

The governing populist-left Smer-SD party won 18.39 percent support and 39 seats, while the far-right Our Slovakia LSNS got 17 seats.The result suggests Smer-SD lacks obvious coalition partners as it has ruled out teaming up with LSNS.Matovic meanwhile said he would not cooperate with Smer-SD.“No way. We don´t negotiate with the mafia,” Matovic said, in response to a quip from Pellegrini on the possibility of cooperation

Analysts suggest that OLaNO´s Matovic, a 46-year-old media-savvy but unpredictable politician, could become premier if he can unify the splintered opposition.

An eccentric self-made millionaire and former media boss, Matovic set up “Ordinary People and Independent Personalities — OLaNO” a decade ago.Matovic told reporters that he had agreed by phone to meet with President Zuzana Caputova on “Monday or Tuesday” and that he would begin talks with leaders of other opposition parties that made it into parliament on Sunday.

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