Slovakia’s serving prime minister won the first round of Slovakia’s presidential election Saturday but will have to fight hard ahead of the late-March runoff to persuade enough voters concerned that his ruling left-of-center party is taking too much power. If elected, Robert Fico, 49 years old, and his Smer-Social Democrats would gain control over the presidency, parliament, and government in this small euro-zone country of 5.4 million. No single political party has held all top elected offices in this ex-Communist country formed after a peaceful split of the former Czechoslovak federation in 1993. Mr. Fico won 28% of cast votes, which was well below the expected 35% support indicated by pre-election polls of voters’ preferences.
In the runoff ballot, scheduled for March 29, he will face businessman-turned-philanthropist Andrej Kiska, 51, who garnered 24% of the votes in line with expectations. The two beat 12 other candidates also running in the initial election round.
Since no candidate received the support from more than 50% of eligible voters in the first round, Slovaks will pick their new president in the additional and final voting round.
Mr. Fico is currently halfway into his second term at the helm of the government after his party scored a landslide victory in 2012 parliamentary elections. It garnered 83 out 150 seats in the country’s single-chamber legislature.
Full Article: Slovakia Leader Faces Presidential Election Battle – WSJ.com.