Slovakia’s Fico loses majority in parliamentary elections amid extreme right

Slovakia’s Fico loses majority in parliamentary elections amid extreme right

BRATISLAVA – Agence France-Presse
Slovakia’s Fico loses majority in parliamentary elections amid extreme right

Robert Fico chairman of the SMER-Social Democracy addresses media after a TV debate after Slovakia's early general elections in Bratislava, Slovakia, Sunday, March 6, 2016. AP Photo

Slovakia’s leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico said March 6 that he would begin difficult coalition talks after he won elections on an anti-refugee platform but lost his parliamentary majority as smaller parties, including the extreme right, scored first-time seats.

A conservative party leader described the outcome as a “big earthquake” in Slovak politics, as analysts cautioned that Fico would struggle to build a governing coalition with a total of eight parties reaching the five percent threshold to enter parliament.

With the votes from more than 98 percent of the almost 6,000 polling stations counted by the Statistics Office early March 6, the Smer-Social Democracy of Fico, which campaigned on an anti-migrant ticket, is a winner with 28.4 percent of the vote, or 49 seats in the 150-seat Parliament.

“Today we begin the first preliminary negotiations,” vowing to “try to assemble a meaningful and stable government,” said Fico. “It isn’t going to be easy. We’ll have to do everything to rule out the likelihood of early elections.” 

The liberal Freedom and Solidarity SaS came second with 21 seats, followed by the conservative OLANO-NOVA which took 19 seats. Its leader Igor Matovic told Slovakia’s TASR news agency: “This is a big earthquake.” 

The far-right Slovak National Party (SNS) made it back into parliament after a four-year absence with 15 seats.

The extreme right nationalist LS-Nase Slovensko (Our Slovakia) led by Marian Kotleba secured 14 seats to enter parliament for the first time.

“It will be a major disaster at the time when the Slovak Republic will preside over the European Union to have fascists in our parliament,” Smer-SD MEP Monika Flasikova Benova said March 5.

As Slovakia prepares to take over the EU presidency in July, Fico starkly warned that “we have reached the point when... Greece is likely to be sacrificed for the sake of Schengen,” referring to the 26-nation passport-free travel zone.

Fico’s strongly anti-refugee policies echo those of other hardliners in the EU’s poorer ex-communist east, including Czech President Milos Zeman, Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban and Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski.  All have shunned refugees as Europe grapples with its worst migration crisis since World War II.  
Fico vowed to “never bring even a single Muslim to Slovakia” and filed a lawsuit against an EU-wide plan to redistribute refugees across the bloc.