Slovakia heading for a pro-Russian U-turn?

Slovakia’s parliamentary elections on Saturday could bring former prime minister Robert Fico back into power. The populist politician, who is under investigation on suspicion of criminal activities, has vociferously positioned himself against support for Ukraine. Fico’s Smer party has a narrow lead in the polls over liberal Progresívné Slovensko led by MEP Michal Šimečka. Europe’s press stresses the importance of this vote.

Respekt (CZ) /

More important than the Polish elections

Respekt looks on from the neighbouring Czech Republic:

“A fourth Fico cabinet would stop the country’s development. Slovakia would certainly survive, but the price would be enormous. At best, stagnation, at worst, the emergence of a kind of clone of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. In other words, a transition to the status of a non-democratic country. Like Orbán, Fico and his potential coalition partners look up to Putin. His rule would therefore pose a threat to Europe as a whole. In this respect, these elections are even more important than the Polish ones.”

Erik Tabery
hvg (HU) /

Struggle to survive against the rule of law

This election could lead to the decline of democracy in Slovakia, fears Beata Balogová, editor-in-chief of the Slovak daily Sme, in hvg:

“With Fico’s victory, many things could change. For him, victory has become an existential matter. In a functioning constitutional state he would not be able to defend the corrupt people, allies and sponsors who ensure his survival. Fico’s struggle is not ideological, it is not about right versus left, liberal versus conservative. It is a corrupt oligarchic system that wants to return to power in the hope that the twilight of liberal democracy has come. ... If Fico wins, he could move in the direction of an Orbán-style regime.”

Beata Balogová
Corriere della Sera (IT) /

A major threat to Europe

Corriere della Sera is anxious about the outcome on Saturday:

“Fico has already been Slovakian prime minister several times. ... Until he was forced to resign five years ago after journalist Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kušnírová were murdered because they were about to publish articles about the relations between the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta’ and members of the government he was leading. ... Fico is an avowed enemy of George Soros and is openly supported by many Putin propaganda sites. In short, he is a figure who, if he lived in Italy, would be predestined to appear on all the talk shows. The damage he could do in Europe, however, is far greater. If elected, he would put his country in Hungary’s orbit. ... That would have major political consequences.”

Paolo Mieli
Iswestija (RU) /

Moscow can hope for fresh support

Pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia sees chances of a change of political course in Slovakia with a new Fico-dominated government:

“Polls show that Slovakia is the most pro-Russian country in the European Union. ... The likelihood of a Moscow-friendly government being formed in Slovakia after the parliamentary elections on 30 September is very high. ... In that case the policy of the Slovak Republic will probably correspond more to the wishes of ordinary Slovaks: the artificial hype over the issue of LGBT rights will come to an end, the EU will be presented with a refusal to accommodate migrants with foreign cultures on Slovak territory and the prospect of Ukraine joining Nato will be eliminated for the foreseeable future.”

Kirill Awerjanow (SK) /

Fico hasn’t won yet

The race is still completely open, points out:

“Fico has not had a tougher opponent than Šimečka for a long time. And he knows it, and by no means sure of victory. ... He wants to come back victorious, pull the strings, deal the cards and rule. He wants revenge, on NGOs, the media, political opponents, investigators, prosecutors. ... The voters of Progresívne Slovensko — and the parties that are currently on the threshold of electability but clearly distance themselves from Fico and his Smer party regarding post-election cooperation, and which are against oligarchisation and a further hijacking of the state — could spoil things for him.”

Peter Bárdy