The preparations for the September Slovak general elections are reaching their final stages. The State Commission for Elections and Supervision of Funding of Political Parties announced that 24 political parties, along with 2,728 candidates, will be competing for seats in the Federal Assembly. However, there are concerns that the voter turnout might be lower than the 65 percent recorded in 2020. This might be attributed to the growing distrust in politics among the public. To address this issue, political leaders are making efforts to connect with voters by traveling across the country. At the forefront is the center-left populist Smer-SD, led by Robert Fico, garnering support in the range of 16 to 18 percent. Following closely behind is Peter Pellegrini with Hlas-SD, holding around 14 percent. Taking the third spot is Progresívne Slovensko (PS).
With only two months remaining until the September Slovak general elections, Fico continues to deliberately foster uncertainty. Recently, he expressed concerns over President Zuzana Čaputová’s attendance at the NATO summit in Lithuania earlier this month, claiming she had not consulted with anyone about it. However, Fico overlooked the fact that Slovak Heads of State typically participate in such summits. Referring to Čaputová’s official trip to Vilnius as a “personal adventure,” Fico reiterated his view that “Ukraine does not belong to NATO.” It is well-known that Fico has a personal aversion to the Atlantic Alliance, as he aims to appeal to a portion of the Slovak electorate that holds hostility towards Western-led institutions. While the President declared the Atlantic alliance as crucial protection for Slovakia’s interests, Fico emphasized the importance of maintaining a buffer zone between NATO countries and the Russian Federation.
Strongly opposing Kyiv’s accession to NATO, Fico has also expressed disagreement with the Defense Ministry’s proposal to acquire Viper helicopters from the U.S. He believes Ľudovít Ódor’s caretaker government lacks the authority to make significant decisions on foreign affairs and defense matters. This perspective is shared also by right-wing parties like Republika. Despite being former political adversaries, Smer-SD and Republika are considering each other as potential partners. Andrej Danko, from the right-wing SNS party, presents similar arguments and indicates a possible cooperation with Fico after the election. Meanwhile, relations between Smer-SD and Hlas-SD have somewhat cooled. Pellegrini continues to present himself as a moderate alternative to Fico. During an event in Trenčín, he launched his manifesto-book titled “Slovakia on its Own,” outlining his vision for the future of Slovakia.
In recent weeks, Hlas-SD has been actively pushing on critical issues, such as the pediatric shortage crisis in the country. Alongside Smer-SD and other right-wing parties, they have also been vocal in their criticism of the caretaker government’s handling of the energy and food prices’ crisis. Political parties wish to deal with this issue by further increasing public debt. However, Slovakia is already facing financial constraints and cannot afford to accumulate more debt. Progresívne Slovensko (PS) also has intentions to address these issues, but with a focus on different purposes and social policies. PS’s leader, Michal Šimečka, has openly labeled Robert Fico as the biggest threat to Slovakia and remains open to dialogue with KDH. However, it remains uncertain whether PS will cooperate with Hlas-SD.
The conservative party landscape is complex, contributing to the problem of political fragmentation in the country. SaS-Saska is emphasizing the significance of the energy sector, while OĽaNO has not yet clarified its position regarding forming a coalition with two other parties, Za ľudí (For the People) and Kresťanská únia (Christian Union), for the upcoming September Slovak general elections. Igor Matovič continues to add his unique flair to the electoral campaign, using 79 Fiat 500s as a symbol of the “fight against mafia,” with “mafia” being a reference to Smer-SD and Hlas-SD. Additionally, OĽaNO is currently advocating for numerous pro-family measures, likely attempting to attract traditionalist voters from Sme Rodina. Finally, Blues – European Slovakia is focusing on European values and promoting the idea of a unified European house as a means to bring together the fragmented political parties.
(Published on amedeogasparini.com)