© Reuters. SMER-SSD occasion chief Robert Fico walks open air his occasion’s headquarters on the day of the country’s early parliamentary election in Bratislava, Slovakia, September 30, 2023. REUTERS/Eva Korinkova
By Jan Lopatka
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Robert Fico, who obtained Slovakia’s parliamentary election on Saturday by difficult to anti-western and knowledgeable-Russian sentiment, may per chance just lead the European Union nation for the fourth time after over another time shifting political gears to allure to a altering electorate.
For the length of a 3-decade career, Fico, 59, has skilfully weaved between knowledgeable-European mainstream and nationalistic anti-Brussels and anti-American positions while showing a willingness to commerce course looking on public belief or changed political realities.
He has remained precise for the length of his career, on the different hand, on guarantees to present protection to living requirements of those left within the aid of in a country the set aside living requirements for many are ultimate slowly catching as a lot as western Europe and the set aside many take care of reasonably fond recollections of a communist-generation previous.
„Fico is a technician of energy, by some distance the appropriate in Slovakia. He does not recognize a counterpart for the time being,” acknowledged sociologist Michal Vasecka, from the Bratislava Protection Institute.
„Fico is consistently following belief polls, understands what is going down” in society.
Yet Fico has embraced more vulgar positions over the previous four years that encompass assaults on western allies, pledges to stop militia wait on for Kyiv, criticism of Russian sanctions and threats to veto any future NATO invitation for Ukraine.
His campaign call of „No longer a single spherical” for Ukraine appealed to voters within the nation of 5.5 million the set aside ultimate a minority within the NATO member country mediate Russia is at fault for the Ukraine war.
Fico, who analysts look for impressed by Hungary’s Viktor Orban, has acknowledged he has Slovak pursuits at coronary heart and desires the war to complete. Western allies and Ukraine inform halting militia abet to Kyiv would ultimate abet Russia.
„We look for Viktor Orban as one in every of those European politicians who recognize not dread to openly shield the pursuits of Hungary and Hungarian folks,” Fico told Reuters in emailed responses final month.
„He places them within the predominant region. And that must be the role of an elected flesh presser, to set up after the pursuits of his voters and his country.”
Fico has moreover railed in opposition to the country’s liberal president, Zuzana Caputova, who sued him final month for spreading lies about her. He has labelled diverse opponents and NGO’s as following instructions of U.S financier George Soros.
Born to a working-class family, Fico graduated with a legislation level in 1986 and joined the then-ruling Communist occasion.
After the 1989 tumble of Communist rule, he worked as a authorities lawyer, obtained a seat in parliament below the renamed Communist occasion, and represented Slovakia on the European Courtroom for Human Rights.
Fico has escape SMER-Social Democracy occasion since 1999 after establishing it to oppose the reformist centre-lawful cabinet.
He parlayed dissatisfaction with liberal economic reforms into his first election victory in 2006.
However he moreover kept the nation on tune to adopt the euro in 2009 despite forming a authorities with nationalists.
His 2nd cabinet obtained after but another centre-lawful coalition broke up two years later, and a tricky stance in opposition to migrants helped him secure re-election in 2016. After that secure, he declared he wanted Slovakia as allotment of the EU’s core with France and Germany.
Those shifts within the previous recognize given belief to foreign diplomats that he may per chance just get a pragmatic methodology with European and NATO partners another time, especially provided that a some distance-lawful occasion he may per chance just ally with below some conditions did not secure any seats on Saturday.
Fico’s political fortunes smartly-liked in 2018 when journalist Jan Kuciak, who used to be investigating high-level graft, and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova had been killed by a contract killer.
This fuelled mass protests in opposition to graft and Fico used to be compelled to resign. SMER misplaced energy in a 2020 election to events pledging to weed out corruption, and his occasion damage up.
Polling below 10%, Fico as soon as sought to take care of voter fears throughout the coronavirus pandemic when he slammed authorities health measures.
„He turned into the most prominent political consultant of a depart in opposition to face masks or vaccination,” acknowledged political analyst Grigorij Meseznikov.
On the same time he a tapped into dissatisfaction with bickering within the ruling authorities and raised doubts with its knowledgeable-western course, chiming with knowledgeable-Russian narratives on social networks that had unfold across Slovakia.
Fico moreover swatted away accusations of graft that recognize dogged his occasion throughout his political career. He used to be charged with criminal conspiracy in 2022 to recount police and tax data on political foes – funds he denied and which were later dropped.