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After pivotal election, Slovakia forms new government

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico gestures as he attends a joint news conference with the French President at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 22, 2016.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico gestures as he attends a joint news conference with the French President at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 22, 2016.

REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Two weeks after winning Slovakia’s elections, former PM Robert Fico, a left-wing populist who campaigned on limiting illegal migration and curtailing military support for Ukraine, has struck a deal to form a new government.


Fico’s social democratic SMER-SSD will form a coalition with the moderate center-left HLAS (Voice) party and the nationalist SNS party.

The former PM’s criticisms of EU sanctions on Russia and his calls for Kyiv to negotiate with Moscow had raised fears that Slovakia, under his leadership, might break ranks with its fellow NATO and EU members on some aspects of Ukraine policy. Fico has said that he supports reconstruction and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, but he doesn’t want to send more Slovak weapons.

The coalition memorandum explicitly reaffirms Slovakia’s commitment to a foreign policy shaped by its membership in NATO and the EU, while also respecting “sovereignty.”

HLAS’ moderating influence, as well as Fico’s track record of governing more pragmatically than he campaigns, likely played a role in the decision to directly address the NATO and EU issue early on. But we’ll see Fico’s stripes more clearly soon enough: He is likely to be confirmed as PM ahead of an EU summit later this month that will focus largely on Ukraine.

For a deeper explainer of who Fico is, what a journalist’s murder has to do with him, and how Ukraine played into the election, see here.

GZEROMEDIA

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