Vladimir Simicek Agence France-Presse Michal Simecka, leader of the centrist Progressive Slovakia (PS) party and vice-president of the European Parliament, urged Slovaks to “elect the future” and promised to rid the country of the “past,” a reference to Robert Fico's three terms as prime minister.
Laszlo Juhasz – Agence France-Presse and Jan Flemr – Agence France-Presse in Bratislava
The centrist Progressive Slovakia (PS) party is expected to win Saturday's Slovak elections, according to two exit polls, ahead of the populist Smer-SD party, which has promised to end aid to neighboring Ukraine. p>
The centrist Progressive Slovakia (PS) party of European Parliament Vice-President Michal Simecka obtained 23.5% according to a poll carried out by the Focus agency for TV Markiza and 19.97% in a poll carried out by the public media group RTVS.
This election in this country of 5.4 million inhabitants, a member of the EU and NATO, is seen as decisive in whether the country can stay on its pro-Western course or turn more towards Russia.
The campaign was marked by particularly high rates of online disinformation.
The populist Smer-SD party of former populist Prime Minister Robert Fico came in second with, respectively 21.9% and 19.1%.
Final results are expected Sunday morning.
The winner of the election will need help from smaller parties to form a majority coalition in the 150-seat parliament.
The new government will replace that of the center-right coalition in power since 2020 , which has changed three times in three years and which has provided considerable military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
During a heated electoral campaign that gave rise to several brawls between candidates, Mr. .Fico opposed the delivery of additional weapons to Ukraine, and attacked the EU and NATO as well as the LGBTQ minority.
Mr. Simecka, who ensures the continuity of aid to Ukraine, urged Slovaks to “elect the future” and promised to rid the country of the “past”, in reference to Mr. Fico as prime minister.
When casting his ballot in Bratislava, Mr Simecka said he would “accept the result of the election with humility”.
< p>“It is a very good thing that there are a large number of people in Slovakia who want a dignified European future for their country and their families,” he added.
Juraj Blanar , Smer candidate and vice-president of Parliament, declared for his part that “people trust us and I firmly believe that we will win.”
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Slovak President Zuzana Caputova said she would task the winner of the election with forming the next cabinet.
The choice of coalition partners includes seven or eight parties, depending on the poll, which entered Parliament.
In addition to the two winners, these are Hlas-SD, led by Peter Pellegrini, former vice-president president of Smer-SD and successor to Mr. Fico as head of government in 2018, Oleno (center), Liberty and Solidarity (SaS, liberal), the Republic (far right) and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), according to Markiza, as well as the eighth, the Slovak National Party (SNS), according to RTVS.
Hlas-SD was born in 2020 from a split within Smer that occurred two years after the departure of Mr. Fico from the post of Prime Minister following the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée.
Mr. Kuciak revealed the existence of links between the Italian mafia and the Fico government in his last article published posthumously.
Slovakia became independent in 1993, following a peaceful separation from the Czech Republic, after Czechoslovakia got rid of four decades of communist rule in 1989.