Site icon News-EN

Slovaks and others go to the polls in the EU elections in the shadow of an assassination attempt


PRAGUE (AP) — Voters in Slovakia, Italy and other European Union countries will cast their ballots Saturday on the third day of European Parliament elections, with populist and extreme right parties looking for gains in the 27-member bloc.

In Slovakia the elections were overshadowed by an attempted murder populist prime minister Robert Fico on May 15, sending shockwaves through the country of 5.4 million and reverberating across Europe. Analysts say the attack could boost the chances of the prime minister’s left-wing Smer (Richting) party, the main partner in the governing coalition, to win the vote.

Fico, who took office last fall after campaigning on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform, is recovering from multiple wounds after being shot in the abdomen while greeting supporters in the city of Handlova.

He recovered in time to address the nation in a pre-recorded videohis first public statement since the attack, just hours before the start of the pre-election quiet period on Wednesday.

Although Fico did not speak directly about the vote, he attacked the European Union and suggested he was a victim because of his views that differ sharply from the European mainstream.

Fico is strongly opposed to supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia’s large-scale invasion. He ended Slovakia’s military aid to Ukraine after his coalition government was sworn in on October 25. He also opposes EU sanctions against Russia and wants to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO.

According to Fico, the mainstream media, non-governmental organizations and the liberal opposition were also responsible for the assassination attempt, an accusation echoed by politicians in his governing coalition.

Soňa Szomolányi, professor of political science at Comenius University in Bratislava, said the timing of Fico’s message was “no coincidence”.

“It only confirms that the ruling coalition used the assassination (attempt) expediently and apparently effectively,” Szomolányi said. As a result, “a mobilization of Smer’s supporters (in the elections) can be expected,” she said.

In Italy, citizens aged 18 and over will cast their votes for two days from Saturday to fill 76 seats in the European Parliament.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is expected to be the big winner, reflecting the growth of her far-right Brothers of Italy, especially at the expense of her coalition partners, the populist, anti-migrant League and the centre-right Forza Italia. While the vote is not expected to affect the balance of the governing coalition, the outcome could increase Meloni’s influence in the European Union as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has not ruled out a coalition with her group.

Building on her popularity, Meloni is running as a preferred candidate, even though she does not intend to win a seat in the European Parliament.

Voters in Latvia, Malta and the Czech Republic also cast their votes on Saturday. The final results will not be announced until Sunday evening, after each country has voted. The main voting day is Sunday, with citizens in 20 European countries, including Germany, France and Poland, casting their ballots for the 720-seat European Parliament.

Seats are allocated based on population, ranging from six in Malta or Luxembourg to 96 in Germany.

In Slovakia, Fico’s Smer party is locked in a neck-and-neck race with the main opposition Progressive Slovakia, a pro-Western liberal party.

Fico’s government has made efforts to do so thoroughly overhaul public broadcasting – a move that critics say would give the government complete control over public television and radio.

That, along with his plans to amend the criminal code The elimination of a special anti-graft prosecutor has led opponents to fear he could take Slovakia down a more autocratic path, following the lead of neighboring Hungary under populist policies. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Thousands have repeatedly gathered in the capital and across Slovakia to protest Fico’s policies.

Aneta Világi, an analyst from Comenius University, said Smer’s possible victory “will be interpreted by the coalition parties as proof that a majority of voters still agree with the direction they offer the country.”


Associated Press writer Colleen Barry in Milan contributed reporting.

Exit mobile version