© Reuters. SMER-SSD party chief Robert Fico walks exterior his party’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 gained Slovakia’s parliamentary election on Saturday by engaging to anti-western and pro-Russian sentiment, would possibly per chance well well lead the European Union nation for the fourth time after as soon as over again bright political gears to enchantment to a changing voters.
All the device through a three-decade career, Fico, 59, has skilfully weaved between pro-European mainstream and nationalistic anti-Brussels and anti-American positions whereas displaying a willingness to swap course reckoning on public belief or changed political realities.
He has remained regular at some point of his career, however, on guarantees to guard residing requirements of those left within the lend a hand of in a rustic where residing requirements for a ramification of are totally slowly catching as much as western Europe and where many protect pretty fond recollections of a communist-period previous.
“Fico is a technician of energy, by a long way the ideal in Slovakia. He does now not dangle a counterpart for the time being,” acknowledged sociologist Michal Vasecka, from the Bratislava Coverage Institute.
“Fico is repeatedly following belief polls, understands what is going down” in society.
Yet Fico has embraced more coarse positions over the final four years that consist of assaults on western allies, pledges to quit navy toughen for Kyiv, criticism of Russian sanctions and threats to veto any future NATO invitation for Ukraine.
His advertising and marketing campaign call of “No longer a single spherical” for Ukraine appealed to voters within the nation of 5.5 million where totally a minority within the NATO member country private Russia is at fault for the Ukraine warfare.
Fico, who analysts detect inspired by Hungary’s Viktor Orban, has acknowledged he has Slovak interests at coronary heart and desires the warfare to complete. Western allies and Ukraine stutter halting navy support to Kyiv would totally back Russia.
“We detect Viktor Orban as belief to be one of those European politicians who stop now not dread to brazenly protect the interests of Hungary and Hungarian other folk,” Fico told Reuters in emailed responses closing month.
“He places them within the first space. And that must be the operate of an elected politician, to be taught about after the interests of his voters and his country.”
Fico has furthermore railed against the country’s liberal president, Zuzana Caputova, who sued him closing 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 regulations level in 1986 and joined the then-ruling Communist party.
After the 1989 fall of Communist rule, he worked as a authorities attorney, gained a seat in parliament below the renamed Communist party, and represented Slovakia on the European Court docket for Human Rights.
Fico has bustle SMER-Social Democracy party since 1999 after establishing it to oppose the reformist centre-moral cupboard.
He parlayed dissatisfaction with liberal financial reforms into his first election victory in 2006.
Nevertheless he furthermore kept the nation on target to adopt the euro in 2009 in spite of forming a authorities with nationalists.
His second cupboard gained after another centre-moral coalition broke up two years later, and a now not easy stance against migrants helped him win re-election in 2016. After that win, he declared he wanted Slovakia as section of the EU’s core with France and Germany.
These shifts within the previous dangle given belief to foreign diplomats that he would possibly per chance well well acquire a pragmatic approach with European and NATO companions over again, in particular provided that a a long way-moral party he would possibly per chance well well ally with below some scenarios did now not win any seats on Saturday.
Fico’s political fortunes old in 2018 when journalist Jan Kuciak, who became investigating high-level graft, and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova had been killed by a contract killer.
This fuelled mass protests against graft and Fico became compelled to resign. SMER lost energy in a 2020 election to parties pledging to weed out corruption, and his party smash up.
Polling below 10%, Fico as soon as sought to handle voter fears all the device during the coronavirus pandemic when he slammed authorities health measures.
“He became the most prominent political representative of a circulation against face masks or vaccination,” acknowledged political analyst Grigorij Meseznikov.
On the identical time he a tapped into dissatisfaction with bickering within the ruling authorities and raised doubts with its pro-western course, chiming with pro-Russian narratives on social networks that had spread at some point of Slovakia.
Fico furthermore swatted away accusations of graft which dangle dogged his party all the device through his political career. He became charged with criminal conspiracy in 2022 to make spend of police and tax files on political foes — costs he denied and which had been later dropped.