Robert Fico, the leader of the victorious Smer-Social Democracy party, has expressed his intention to vie for the position of prime minister should he receive the mandate to establish a new governing coalition. In his first statement after securing nearly 23 percent of the vote in the recent snap election, Fico declared, “Until then, there is no point in negotiating with anyone.” He also touched upon the issue of migration, advocating for the immediate implementation of border controls at the Hungarian border.
Following this, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová announced her intention to task the election winner with the formation of a new government, set to take place on Monday.
At the onset of his press conference, Fico issued an apology for not having his vocal cords in optimal condition, jesting, “We were singing a bit, but I guess that’s normal.” This light-hearted remark came from the victor of the election.
Fico reaffirmed his preference for a structured negotiation process within the new government coalition. He proposed that the coalition members first reach an agreement on the agenda before deciding on the distribution of responsibilities. Potential coalition partners for Smer include Petr Pellegrini’s Voice-Social Democracy party, which secured 14.7 percent of the vote in the election, and Andrej Danko’s Slovak National Party, garnering 5.62 percent of the Slovak electorate’s support.
“If I receive a mandate from the president to form a government, we will require approximately two weeks to establish our priorities,” Fico explained.
When questioned about the new government’s stance on Ukraine, Fico emphasized that Slovakia’s immediate concerns lay elsewhere. He stated, “Ukraine is a huge tragedy for everyone. If it comes to the point where Smer forms a government, we will do everything we can, including on European Union soil, to facilitate peace talks promptly. Further violence serves no one’s interests. It is more prudent to engage in negotiations, to seek compromise over the next decade, rather than witness continued violence for another ten years, with the same outcome at the end of it.”
Fico added, “We are prepared to extend humanitarian aid to Ukraine and contribute to the nation’s reconstruction. However, our stance on arming Ukraine remains unchanged.”
Fico called for a calming of the situation within Slovakia. He emphasized his commitment to fostering robust relationships with neighboring countries and preserving the cohesion of the Visegrád Group (V4).
“If Smer assumes office, my primary goal is to ensure government stability, with a strong preference for a four-year term marked by responsible governance and a commitment to the people. We want to assure our citizens that we will not allow a 100 percent increase in gas prices, as proposed by the Office for Regulation of Network Industries. We have fought for the well-being of our people,” Fico asserted.
He concluded with the slogan, “Credo Roberto Experto – Trust the experienced Roberto,” though the Latin phrase, “Experto crede,” is more correctly translated as “trust the experienced one.” The addition of the name is possibly a postscript.
Fico made it clear that Slovakia’s foreign policy orientation would remain unchanged, reaffirming the nation’s commitment to the European Union. He reflected on past achievements, highlighting, “Have you forgotten that without Smer, the referendum would not have succeeded? (Have you forgotten that our government played a pivotal role in Slovakia’s entry into Schengen, the introduction of the euro, and the visa-free access to the United States of America?) We are in tune with reality, but that does not preclude us from critiquing certain aspects of the European Union. I have reservations about the European Union’s lack of independent positions on certain issues and its alignment with the United States of America. We are not under the illusion that the European Union is a purely peace-centric initiative. There are aspects we disagree with, and we will communicate these concerns. However, there will be no deviation from Slovakia’s fundamental alignment,” he assured.
Fico called for respect of differing opinions, stating, “Respect that we hold different views on certain matters. That is the essence of democracy. The European Union often promotes a singular perspective, branding anyone who diverges as a supporter of Putin or a propagandist for Russia. But this is an oversimplification. Do we not have the right to voice our distinct stance on the conflict? Let us dispense with the labeling of individuals as fascists or Putin sympathizers.”
He continued, “Know us for what we are: rational, pragmatic, and left-leaning politicians. That is our defining characteristic. We harbor no intentions to harm Slovakia.”
In addressing the pressing issue of migration, Fico asserted that the new government must promptly institute border controls at the Hungarian border. He acknowledged that these measures might not be without challenges and could necessitate the use of force to address the migrant situation.
Fico also confirmed that the positions of police president Štefan Hamran and special prosecutor Daniel Lipšic would be immediately replaced.