Pellegrini wins Slovakian presidential elections


Pellegrini, 48, said his victory meant the government would have support in its aims, and not face an “opposition, opportunistic power centre” in reference to outgoing liberal President Zuzana Caputova…reports Asian Lite News

Slovak nationalist-left government candidate Peter Pellegrini has won the country’s presidential election, cementing the grip of pro-Russian Prime Minister Robert Fico over the country.

Pellegrini had 53.26 percent of the vote, versus 46.73 percent for pro-Western opposition candidate Ivan Korcok, results from 99.66 percent of voting districts showed on Saturday.

Fico, who took power for the fourth time last October, has turned the country’s foreign policy to more pro-Russian views and initiated reforms of criminal law and the media, raising concerns over weakening the rule of law.

Slovak presidents do not have many executive powers but can veto laws or challenge them in the Constitutional Court. They nominate Constitutional Court judges, who may become important in political strife over the fate of Fico’s reforms, which would dramatically ease punishments for corruption.

Fico’s coalition which includes a party headed by Pellegrini halted Slovak official shipments of weapons for Ukraine and Fico has spoken about what he called Western influence in the war which only led to Slavic nations killing each other.

Pellegrini, 48, said his victory meant the government would have support in its aims, and not face an “opposition, opportunistic power centre” in reference to outgoing liberal President Zuzana Caputova.

“I will be a president who will support the government in its efforts for improving people’s lives,” Pellegrini said at his campaign headquarters.

“I will do everything for Slovakia to forever remain on the side of peace and not the side of war.”

Pellegrini, who was Fico’s former deputy in Smer, became prime minister in 2018 after Fico was forced to resign following large antigovernment street protests over the killing of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee.

Pellegrini had temporarily parted ways with Fico after the scandal-tainted Smer lost the previous election in 2020.

With Pellegrini’s win, Fico rebounded from two straight presidential election losses. Fico was defeated at the presidential vote by Andrej Kiska 10 years ago while Caputova claimed victory over a candidate he supported in the 2019 ballot.

Opposition-backed Korcok conceded defeat as nearly complete results showed Pellegrini winning. “I am honestly disappointed. But I’m an athlete so I can respect even this result. I want to congratulate the winner,” Korcok said.

“I want to express my belief that Peter Pellegrini will be independent and will act according to his own convictions and without orders,” he added.

Pellegrini has portrayed Korcok as a warmonger for his support for arming Ukraine and suggested he could take Slovak troops into the war in the neighbouring country, which Korcok denied.

Pellegrini, seen as more moderate than Fico, said earlier on Saturday his election would not mean a rush to any fundamental change in foreign policy.

“This is not about the future direction of foreign policy. I also guarantee, like the other candidate, that we will continue to be a strong member of the EU and NATO,” he said after voting in Rovinka on the outskirts of the capital. Korcok lashed out at Pellegrini for winning by spreading fear.

“A campaign can be won by making the other a candidate of war. I will not forget this,” Korcok said at his campaign headquarters.

“The decisive factor was high turnout, I respect that, but it was fear that decided … spreading fear and hatred.”

Korcok, like Kyiv’s Western allies, had argued that a halt in supplying Ukraine would not lead to peace but to Russia’s victory.

The independent Korcok, 60, was Slovakia’s envoy to the EU and later ambassador to the United States, before taking the foreign affairs portfolio in centre-right governments in 2021-22.

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