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Liberals lead in Slovakia election, exit poll shows

Liberals lead in Slovakia election, exit poll shows

by host

Liberal, Western-oriented Progressive Slovakia was leading Slovakia’s election on Saturday, followed by the leftist-populist Smer opposition party, an exit poll indicated.

Progressive Slovakia, led by former journalist and Oxford grad Michal Šimečka, had 23.5 percent of the vote, followed by former Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer with 21.9 percent, the exit poll from the Focus agency and the TV station Markíza showed shortly after balloting closed at 10:45 p.m. CET.

By political custom in Slovakia, the front-runner gets the first chance at forming a majority in the 150-seat parliament.

With the country profoundly polarized, that rule theoretically puts Šimečka in a strong position to form a coalition for what would be his first term as prime minister, if he can find enough allies in conservative Slovakia willing to work with him and his LGBT+ platform.

Saturday’s ballot is seen as pivotal to Slovakia’s future, with Fico having promised to stop sending weapons to Ukraine, to block Kyiv’s potential NATO membership, and to “take money from banks, [who] have billions.” 

Known for his sympathies toward Moscow, Fico told a pre-election rally in his home town of Topoľčany on August 30 that “the war in Ukraine didn’t start a year ago, it started in 2014, when Ukrainian Nazis and fascists started murdering Russian citizens in the Donbas and Luhansk.” 

Šimečka, meanwhile, told a crowd at Progressive Slovakia headquarters that his party’s voters “want a dignified European future for their families and their nation, a future where we can invest in our teachers and our schools, our health care professionals and our hospitals.” 

Among potential partners for Šimečka’s party are the OĽaNO party, which scored 8 percent in the exit poll; the liberal Sloboda a solidarita (Freedom and Solidarity) with 6.4 percent; and the Christian Democrats with 5.3 percent. Together with Progressive Slovakia, they would hold 43.2 percent of the vote, which would give them 85 seats and a 10-seat majority.

Smer’s natural partners, meanwhile, include the social democrats of Hlas (Voice), a 2021 breakaway from Fico’s party, which will be disappointed with its 12.2 percent third-place result. Other possibilities include the far-right Republika, with 6 percent.

No other party received more than 5 percent in the exit poll, the minimum level for parliamentary representation.

The failure of the SNS nationalists to break the 5 percent level — they were on only 4.4 percent — may end up dooming Fico’s bid for another term as prime minister.

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