2016-03-06 18:57:00

Slovakia Prime Minister wins ballot but struggles with far-right rise

(Vatican Radio) Slovakia's leftist nationalist Prime Minister Robert Fico says difficult coalition talks are ahead after he won this weekend's elections on a fierce anti-migration platform, but no parliamentary majority. 

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:

The liberal Freedom and Solidarity came second with 21 seats, followed by the conservative OLANO-NOVA which took 19 seats. Sunday's published results also showed a come-back for the far-right in the European Union member state.  

Fico was not in a celebratory mood when addressing reporters. His Smer-Social Democrats party received roughly 49 seats,  down sharply from his comfortable 83-seat majority in the 150 member parliament.

Fico had hoped to win more votes with an anti-migration campaign that included a pledge to  "never bring even a single Muslim to Slovakia" and filing a lawsuit against the European Union over its plan to distribute 160,000 refugees among the 28 member states.

Yet the Slovak leader said he still wants to form a government and avoid early elections as Slovakia takes over the rotating EU presidency in July. "It is simply the political duty of each political subject to look for partners for a meaningful government. We still see big challenges ahead of us. If we don't believe in the migrant crisis, let us just believe in the president of the Slovak Republic in the European Union," he said. "We need to consider that the government  should have some kind of experience handling these kind of processes."   

Analysts say that Fico to clinch a third term will have likely have to distance himself from the far right and start complicated talks with more moderate centrist parties, including a party representing Slovakia's ethnic-Hungarian minority.

Among the hardliners are the far-right Slovak National Party which made it back into parliament after a four-year absence with 15 seats. The extreme right nationalist Our Slovakia party secured 14 seats to enter parliament for the first time.
A European Parliamentarian of Fico's party, Monika Flasikova-Benova, expressed concern about the rise of the far-right in her nation. "It is a huge catastrophe that we will have fascists in Parliament when Slovakia takes over the European Union presidency," she added.

Critics have attributed the far-right's success to Fico's focus on refugees while he allegedly forgot about bread and butter issues such as demanded salary hikes for public sector workers and widespread anger over corruption.

Fico's strongly anti-refugee policies echo those of other hardliners in the EU's poorer ex-communist east, including Czech President Milos Zeman, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Poland's influential politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

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