Philanthropist and former businessman Andrej Kiska took a wide lead over Prime Minister Robert Fico in Slovakia’s presidential election, partial results of the second election round showed on Saturday. Data from 45 percent of voting districts showed the politically unaffiliated Kiska leading over the center-left prime minister by 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent of the vote. Kiska, 51, has been riding the wave of anti-Fico sentiment among right-wing voters as well as distrust in mainstream political parties because of graft scandals and persistently high unemployment. The partial results seemed to reflect fear among Slovaks that the 49-year-old would amass too much power, which some see as unhealthy for democratic checks and balances.
A Fico victory would give his center-left Smer party full control of all the main power centers in the euro zone country of 5.5 million, even if the Slovak constitution does not grant the president himself a huge political role.
The president has the power to name or approve some of the main figures in the country’s prosecution and judicial branches, and this right has led to political clashes in the past.
Kiska made millions of dollars in consumer credit companies which he sold a decade ago, setting up a charity to help families with ill children.
Fico and other critics say he is a political amateur who made money in the past on unfairly high-interest loans, a charge Kiska denies.