Slovakia’s president, on Wednesday, officially designated a new coalition government headed by populist leader Robert Fico. Fico is a member of the Smer-SD party, which emerged victorious in the parliamentary election held on September 30. He has pledged to cease providing military assistance to Ukraine. The three-party governing coalition will hold a narrow majority of 79 seats in the 150-member parliament.
“We will be a constructive government. You will see sovereign Slovak foreign policy,” Fico said at the ceremony.
After winning the election, Fico said: “the people in Slovakia have bigger problems than Ukraine,” adding “further killing will not help anyone.”
Fico’s junior coalition partner, the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS), has expressed a clear pro-Russian line. Chairman Andrej Danko said in July that Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine were not “historically Ukrainian.” He has also addressed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as “my dear friend.”
Fico is set attend a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, where Ukraine aid is likely to be high on the agenda.
However, some analysts have argued that Fico is unlikely to immediately change course on support for Kyiv.
“I do not expect Fico to address the topic of military aid for Ukraine any time soon,” Darina Malova, a professor of political science at the Bratislava-based Comenius University, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.
Fico already served as Slovakia’s prime minister between 2006 and 2010, and again from 2012 to 2018.
Fico’s coalition government also includes the SNS and the left-wing Hlas-SD, which broke away from Smer in 2020.
Smer lost elections in 2020 after numerous corruption scandals. Peter Pellegrini, who later went on to found Hlas-SD, replaced Fico as prime minister in 2018 after he was forced to resign following major street protests resulting from the 2018 killing of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée.
Fico’s Smer-SD party has 42 seats in parliament, Hlas-SD has 27, and the SNP has 10.
The largest opposition party, Progressive Slovakia, won 32 seats in the last election. It is also the party of President Zuzana Caputova.