Slovakia: Fico set for election win, reinforcing central Europe’s EU dissenters | Reuters

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is on course to win another term in parliamentary elections on Saturday, maintaining an anti-immigration alliance with his European Union neighbors, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Fico, 51, is a Social Democrat but fits in with his two conservative peers when it comes to a focus on national pride, social conservatism and strong opposition to immigration. Opinion polls show Fico’s Smer party will win 32.5-38.4 percent of the vote, enough to retain power with a coalition partner or two. Many in Brussels are watching the election and Fico’s views on migration because Slovakia will hold the rotating six-month EU presidency from July, giving it a bigger voice in EU discussions.

Slovakia: Political newcomer Kiska takes wide lead in Slovak presidential election | Reuters

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.

Slovakia: Incumbent Faces Presidential Election Battle – Runoff Vote Set for March 29 | Wall Street Journal

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.

Slovakia: Slovaks head to the polls on Saturday | Prague Post

Slovaks will choose a new head of state in the direct presidential election, the fourth since its introduction in 1999, from among the record number of 14 candidates in the first election round March 15. The two most promising candidates are the incumbent Prime Minister and Smer-Social Democracy Chairman Robert Fico, and entrepreneur Andrej Kiska (unaffiliated). It is expected that none of the candidates will be elected in the first round. To be elected, the candidate would have to be supported by an absolute majority of all eligible voters, including those who do not take part in the election. The new head of state, who will replace outgoing President Ivan Gašparovič, will probably emerge from the second election round March 29, in which the first round’s two most successful candidates will clash. According to public opinion polls, the election favorite is Fico, the country’s most popular politician, who might gain about 35 percent of the vote in the first round.

Czech Republic: The Czech paradox: Did the winner lose and the losers win? | Washington Post

Czech party politics used to be boring. The 2013 parliamentary election, however, highlights the transformation of the party system, the arrival of new entrants and the woes faced by the long-established parties. The Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) won the election, but the margin of victory was slender. When the centre-right government under Prime Minister Petr Necas collapsed in a scandal involving sex, lies and spies in June, CSSD looked on course to win 30 percent of the vote. The only question seemed to be whether they would strike a deal with the Communists or not. The party, however, managed just 20.45 percent in October’s election, throwing the party into turmoil. Tensions between the different wings of the party re-emerged and within hours the knives were out for party leader Bohuslav Sobotka. The explanation for the failure of CSSD may lie with Sobotka’s lack of charisma and a lackluster campaign full of rather bland promises such a “well-functioning state”, but it is worth recalling that the party garnered almost the same level of support it got in the previous election in 2010. The key to CSSD’s weakness lies in the inability to integrate the forces of the left in the way that Robert Fico has managed in Slovakia.

Slovakia: Left emerges triumphant from the ashes of the right |

There was a startling life-imitates-politics moment during Saturday’s parliamentary elections in Slovakia, when the Krásna Hôrka castle, a national monument, burned to a smoking ruin. With the centre-right government also in flames, social networks quivered with a horrified question: how bad could this get? For the right wing – historically bad. For the first time in its 18-year history, Slovakia will be ruled by a single party, the social-democratic Smer (Direction) led by lawyer Robert Fico. With 44% of the vote, Fico captured 83 of 150 seats, and is now picking ministers ahead of a swift transfer of power. As impressive as the left’s victory was, Fico arguably had little to do with it. Last autumn, the four government parties quarrelled over the euro bailout scheme, and then petulantly refused to make up. The result was early elections, less than two years after the coalition took office, and an electorate fed up with such arrant folly. In rural countries, let it be said, rightwing governments should consider themselves lucky.

Slovakia: Leftist opposition wins big in Slovakia election | Newsday

A leftist opposition led by one of the few leading politicians in Slovakia to escape voter anger over a major corruption scandal has been propelled back to power in an early parliamentary election, according to almost complete results on Sunday. Smer-Social Democracy of former Prime Minister Robert Fico is a clear winner with 44.8 percent of the vote, or 84 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, with the votes from 5,842 of the 5,956 polling stations counted by the Statistics Office early Sunday. The result allows Fico to govern alone, which has not happened to anyone since the country was created as an independent state following the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Slovakia: As vote looms, Slovakia rocked by bribes scandal |

For two years, the dossier claims, politicians of all stripes were pocketing kickbacks from members of an influential private investment group. In the wall of the apartment where the clandestine meetings took place was a listening device planted by a secret agent intrigued by why so many high-level visitors were dropping in. The “Gorilla’’ files — mysteriously posted online by an anonymous source in December and said to be based on the wiretaps — have rocked the already-raucous world of Slovak politics ahead of elections Saturday. The fallout looks certain to propel populist former leader Robert Fico back into power, even though he himself has been implicated.