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Korcok and Pellegrini will face each other in the second round of the Slovak presidential election

Photo: Vladimir Simicek Agence France-Presse Former Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini is part of the pro-Russia ruling camp that has questioned Ukraine's sovereignty. The liberal Ivan Korcok obtained 42.44% of the votes in the first round of the presidential election, against 37.1% for Mr. Pellegrini.

Laszlo Juhasz – Agence France-Presse to Bratislava

8:59 p.m.

  • Europe

Ivan Korcok, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Peter Pellegrini, Speaker of the Slovak Parliament, will face each other in the second round of the presidential election, after coming first in the first round on Saturday, according to the almost complete results.

Based on a 99.9% vote count, Mr. Korcok received 42.44%, compared to 37.1% for Mr. Pellegrini, according to the Slovak Statistics Office. The second round of voting will take place on April 6.

Analysts had expected a close result, with Mr. Pellegrini, 48, and Mr. Korcok, 59, leading opinion polls ahead of the vote, which was marked by deep divisions on the war in neighboring Ukraine.

Former Prime Minister Pellegrini is part of the pro-Russia ruling camp, led by Prime Minister Robert Fico, which has questioned Ukraine's sovereignty.

The liberal Korcok, supported by the opposition, is resolutely pro-Ukraine, as is outgoing President Zuzana Caputova, a critic of the government who chose not to seek a second term.

“It’s a huge success for us,” Pellegrini told reporters.

“The results showed that most Slovaks (including those who voted for other candidates, editor's note) do not want a liberal, right-wing or progressive president,” he said. -he estimated.

“Most instead expressed interest in a president who will defend the national interests of Slovakia, who will not drag Slovakia into a war but will talk about peace, for a president who will place the interests of Slovakia in the foreground,” he added.

Mr. Korcok, who will probably face strong opposition from Mr. Fico's team if he is elected, for his part considered his result “promising, encouraging”.

“But I have my feet on the ground,” he said, “I want to address voters who do not agree with the direction this government is giving Slovakia, [ …] including in matters of foreign policy.”

“I want to be a president who […] will represent the country abroad and at home and who will make independent decisions, without taking orders,” he said.

Calm and wise

Although his office is primarily ceremonial, the Slovak president ratifies international treaties, appoints key judges, and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The leader of this country of 5.4 million people, a member of NATO and the European Union, can also veto laws passed by Parliament.

When voting in Bratislava, Juraj Jankovich, a retiree, said Mr. Pellegrini “was a calm and wise prime minister and would be a good president.”

Graphic designer Zora Puskacova said that Mr. Korcok “would be a worthy representative of Slovakia abroad.”

“Pellegrini […] will most likely act as an ally” of Mr. Fico’s government, analyst Pavol Babos told AFP.

The two men are long-time political allies, and Mr. Fico has appointed Mr. Pellegrini to various positions over the years, including Speaker of Parliament and Minister of Education.

The war in neighboring Ukraine divided Slovaks during the election campaign.

During the last debate before the vote, Mr. Pellegrini, 48, called for “an immediate ceasefire and the opening of peace negotiations” between Kiev and Moscow.

A position denounced by Mr. Korcok, 59 years old.

“The Russian Federation has trampled on international law […]. I don't think Ukraine should give up part of its territory to achieve peace,” he told AFP. “Peace cannot be synonymous with capitulation,” he insisted.

According to Mr. Babos, the Liberal candidate could be “very likely a counterweight to the government coalition and […] would seek to correct the government's anti-democratic tendencies.”

Fico's cabinet was recently criticized for adopting a controversial reform of the Penal Code, which notably provides for reduced penalties for corruption and economic crimes.

Although he is running as an independent, Mr. Korcok is supported by opposition parties who believe a Pellegrini victory would pave the way for presidential pardons for government allies convicted of corruption.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116