A professional-Western profession diplomat faces an ally of the populist premier in Slovakia’s presidential vote | EUROtoday

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A professional-Western profession diplomat and a detailed ally of Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico are dealing with one another in a presidential runoff on Saturday to find out who would be the subsequent head of state.

Former Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok is up towards Peter Pellegrini, who heads a coalition get together in Fico’s authorities, within the vote for the largely ceremonial publish as president of the nation of 5.4 million.

A victory for Pellegrini, who at the moment serves as Parliament speaker, would cement Fico’s energy by giving him and his allies management of main strategic posts.

It would additionally deprive Slovakia and the European Union of a key pro-Ukrainian voice. The present president, Zuzana Čaputová, a staunch backer of Slovakia’s neighbor Ukraine in its struggle towards Russia’s two-year invasion, didn’t stand for a second time period.

A former liberal environmental activist, she has repeatedly come below assault from Fico, who received Sept. 30 parliamentary elections on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform and has accused Čaputová of being a U.S. agent.

The newest public polls predict a good race. The winner will change into the nation’s sixth head of state since Slovakia gained independence in 1993 after Czechoslovakia break up in two.


As not one of the 9 candidates received a majority within the March 23 first spherical, the 2 prime vote-getters superior to the runoff. Korčok received the primary spherical with 42.5% of the votes, with Pellegrini trailing on 37%. A former justice minister and choose, Štefan Harabin, who has brazenly sided with Russia in its conflict with Ukraine, completed a distant third with 11.7%.


The 60-year-old will not be affiliated with any political get together however agreed to change into the overseas minister in 2020 when he was the ambassador to the United States. During the coronavirus pandemic, Korčok opposed a secret deal to amass Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine orchestrated by Prime Minister Igor Matovič, calling the vaccine a device in Russia’s hybrid conflict towards the West. Korčok represented the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity get together within the publish until 2022. Previously, he additionally served because the ambassador to Germany and was the nation’s envoy to NATO and the European Union. He’s married, a father of two who firmly helps Slovakia’s EU and NATO memberships.


Pellegrini, 48, who favors a robust function for the state, heads the left-wing Hlas (Voice) get together that completed third in final 12 months’s vote. His get together joined a ruling coalition with Fico’s leftist Smer (Direction) get together and the ultranationalist Slovak National Party. Critics fear Slovakia below Fico will abandon its pro-Western course and observe the route of Hungary below populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Thousands have repeatedly taken to the streets throughout Slovakia lately to rally towards Fico’s pro-Russian and different insurance policies that they worry undermine the rule of legislation whereas voicing their help for Korčok.

Pellegrini, who was Fico’s former deputy in Smer, grew to become prime minister in 2018, after Fico was compelled to resign following main anti-government road protests over the killing of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee. Pellegrini had briefly parted methods with Fico after the scandal-tainted Smer misplaced the earlier election in 2020.


The conflict in neighboring Ukraine was a core marketing campaign challenge. Pellegrini’s candidacy is supported by Fico’s coalition that instantly stopped any navy assist to Ukraine, saying the battle has no navy answer. Pellegrini accused Korčok of being a warmonger prepared to attract his nation into the conflict by sending troops to Ukraine. Korčok dismissed that.

In Slovakia, the federal government and parliament, however not the president, can approve Slovak troops’ deployment overseas. Pellegrini additionally prompt that Slovakia wouldn’t have the ability to ship its troops to different NATO members in the event that they have been attacked, a precept of NATO’s collective protection. He claimed the Slovak navy will not be armed nicely sufficient to take action.


Elected for a five-year time period, the president picks the prime minister after parliamentary elections, swears within the new authorities and appoints Constitutional Court judges. The president can even veto legal guidelines, although Parliament can override the veto with a easy majority, and problem them on the Constitutional Court. The head of state additionally has the appropriate to pardon convicts.