In Slovakia of 5.4 million people, an EU and NATO member state, parliamentary elections are being held today that are being declared lopsided and drawing particular attention because of their potential impact on Bratislava’s support for Ukraine in its war with Russia and more broadly in its foreign policy.

The polls open at 07:00 and will close at 22:00 [σ.σ. τοπικές ώρες· 08:00 και 23:00 αντίστοιχα ώρες Ελλάδας]. The six polls are expected to be announced soon after and the final results are expected to be known tomorrow Sunday morning.

The most dominant parties are the Smer-SD (“Section-Slovak Social Democracy”) of the populist former prime minister Robert Fico, who has moved further to the right and is accused of being “pro-Russian” by his opponents – which he denies – and the centrist Progressive faction Slovakia by Michal Simecsa, Vice-President of the European Parliament. Mr. Fiko’s faction is said to have a lead, however both parties are credited according to opinion polls with around 20% of voting intentions.

Whichever faction wins out of the two will need to work with smaller parties to secure a majority in Slovakia’s 150-seat parliament.

The next government will replace the centre-right coalition, in power since 2020, which changed three times.

During a stormy election campaign with many bitter clashes between the candidates, Mr. Fico came out against the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and against LGBTI+.

For many Slovaks, the main concerns are economic and social: the country officially records the highest inflation in the EU (10%), while its health system is economically weakened. Welfare and care for pensioners and residents of neglected areas is a source of concern and protest, as is increased immigration.

Robert Fico declared before the election that he would oppose further military aid to Ukraine.

For his part, Michal Šimeča promises to rid Slovakia of “the past”, an obvious reference to Mr Fico’s three terms as prime minister (2006-2010, 2012-2018), constantly calling on voters to “choose the future ».

Since 2020, the four-party center-right coalition led by Prime Minister Igor Matović and then Eduard Heger has faced multiple internal conflicts and criticism for its actions during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In May, President Zuzana Tsaputova replaced the ruling coalition with a technocrat formation. The coalition parties, which have since split, fear they could be out of parliament in today’s election.