Author: Nino Macharashvili, International Black Sea University


Early parliamentary elections were held in Slovakia on September 30, 2023. According to the election results, the left-wing Social-Democratic Party (SMER) received the majority of votes (23.3%), which increases the chances of its leader Robert Fico returning as Prime Minister. In total, seven parties crossed the 5% threshold, including the second and third places, distributed, respectively, between the liberal, pro-Ukrainian party Progressive Slovakia (PS) (17%) and the moderate-left party Hlas (Voice) (15 %) (see chart).

It is likely that the SMER victory will strengthen Eurosceptic, pro-Russian and anti-liberal sentiments not only in Slovakia (a NATO and EU member state), but throughout Central Europe. All this, in the long term, will have a negative impact on the European Parliament elections in 2024.

In this blog, I will briefly discuss the factors, based on which we can assume that Slovakia will turn to Moscow under Fico’s rule.



Source: Reuters

  • A negative experience of Fico – Robert Fico held the post of Prime Minister of Slovakia for two terms: in 2006-2010 and 2012-2018. He had to resign in 2018 in connection with the high-profile murder of Jan Kuciak. Kuciak was a well-known Slovak investigative journalist who worked on the investigation of Robert Fico’s ties to the Italian mafia. The article prepared by Kuciak was published post-mortem. The murder of the journalist and the revelation of the Prime Minister’s ties to the mafia gave rise to mass anti-government demonstrations that “forced” Fico to resign. Robert Fico, it is said, is not in the category of politicians who are ruled by emotions, and so his desire to return to power is unlikely connected with a desire for revenge. Fico’s indifference towards the West can more likely be explained by the fact that he was not supported by the leaders of the European countries in light of the events that took place in 2018. Consequently, he may now see a powerful ally and political support in Moscow.
  • Populist politics – Recently, populist politics has been on the rise globally, and populism has always been a characteristic feature of Robert Fico and his political party, and, prior to the elections, it became even more so. His party’s populist messages were related to such sensitive issues for Slovakia as the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine and one of the most scandalous issues- migration. According to GLOBSEC research, the population of Slovakia is particularly vulnerable and sensitive to disinformation. This explains the fact that Russia spends a lot in terms of resources on spreading propaganda messages there, and it seems to be quite an effective campaign. According to the GLOBSEC survey, 40% of Slovaks blame Russia for starting the war in Ukraine, while 51% believe that Ukraine and the West are responsible for the current events.


Slovakia was the first country to send air defense missiles and fighter jets to Ukraine, and, in Bratislava, people are actively watching the ongoing events in Ukraine. A part of the voters there stated their intention to make a choice in favor of the political forces supporting Ukraine. Yet, a large number of Slovak voters are pro-Russian and thus perceive the ongoing war differently. During one of his speeches, Robert Fico “won the hearts” of these voters when he declared that in the event of his party’s victory, Slovakia would not send any new bullets to Ukraine, would not join the sanctions imposed on Russia, and would not support Ukraine’s accession to NATO. In Fico’s opinion, doing otherwise would guarantee a third world war, so he offered his constituents a policy of “peace.” Fico and his party want to turn Slovakia into a neutral state, or rather, one that is pleasing to Moscow.

  • Fico’s potential domestic partners – According to the final results of the elections, as already mentioned, Fico’s left-wing party SMER enjoyed a slight advantage (6.3%) over the liberal party Progressive Slovakia (PS). Unlike SMER, before the elections, PS promised its voters it would maintain the Western political course. Despite the favorable results for Fico, his party’s arrival in the parliamentary majority will depend significantly on other parties. According to the results of the parliamentary elections, the moderate left-wing party “Hlas (Voice)” took third place, the founder of which is Peter Pellegrini, former member of SMER and former Prime Minister (2018-2020). Those parties need the support of “Hlas” to create a parliamentary majority. However, Pellegrini has maintained a fairly neutral stance in public, and it is likely that he will support SMER despite his old conflict with Fico, and the Slovak National Party (SNS) will help them to create a pro-Russian coalition (having won 5.6% in the elections). The number of parties in parliament is not small, so increasing the options in coalition formation. In the end, Fico’s prime ministership will be decided by the positions of other, smaller,
  • Fico’s foreign allies – Relations between Fico and Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s pro-Russian prime minister, were not particularly warm during Fico’s tenure as Prime Minister, but during the current election period, the ties between them became very close, seeing the leaders reaching a consensus even on issues that were previously controversial: Fico, in one of his speeches, “cleansed” Orbán, and defended his claim to refer to Slovakia as a “separated territory” of Hungary. The relationship with Fico is also beneficial for Orbán, because if Fico becomes prime minister, Orbán’s isolation among the leaders of the European Union and NATO will end. Currently, Orbán is the only one sharing anti-Ukrainian narratives. In addition, the mentioned alliance may be strengthened further if the conservative PiS party in Poland comes to power for another term, although they have a different position in relation to Russia.


If SMER creates a coalition and gains a parliamentary majority, there is a high probability that Fico will be sworn in as Slovakia’s Orbanian ruler. Despite this, his prime ministership will not have much impact on the current events in Ukraine, as Slovakia’s weapons stockpile is quite limited, EU sanctions against Russia are already in place, and Ukraine is on the way to joining NATO. However, it should also be noted that the change in Slovakia’s foreign policy will significantly weaken the unity of the West and “pour water on the Russian mill”. In addition, the results of the elections held on 30 September may also affect the European Parliament elections in 2024, as the chance of another Eurosceptic country in NATO and the EU in the form of Slovakia increases.