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2016 Election - Robert Fico

The center-left Smer party headed by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico looked set to return to power in elections taking place on 05 March 2016. The final opinion poll before the vote put the grouping at 32.5 percent, more than double the support enjoyed by their nearest rivals. Fico, a 51-year-old former Communist Party member, had been one of the most vocal critics of a European Union scheme to relocate 160,000 refugees around the bloc.

The fall-off in support for Smer meant that after forming Slovakia's first single-party government following a landslide election win in 2012, Fico will now likely need to enter into coalition. His first choice of partner was expected to be the Slovak National Party (SNS), with which he ruled between 2006 and 2010. The SNS is an extreme nationalist grouping whose leader, Jan Slota, became notorious for inflammatory anti-Hungarian and anti-Roma statements the last time they were in the cabinet. Current chairman Andrej Danko uses more measured language, but the party's core values remain the same.

Orban changed the constitution and created an authoritarian regime, and Kaczynski, through his proxy prime minister, took over the branches of executive power and kept control over the legislature and maybe even the judiciary. Fico stuck to democratic principles; he followed the rules.

Slovakias leftist ruling party began negotiations 06 March 2016 with smaller political parties in an attempt to form a coalition government after losing its parliamentary majority in the elections. Ficos Smer-Social Democracy party won nearly 30 percent of the vote, securing 49 seats in the 150-seat parliament, losing its secure majority of 83 seats in the previous government. If he went into coalition with the Christian Democrats or the Hungarian minority Most [Bridge] party, there would definitely be a more moderate Slovak foreign policy.

The pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party came in second with about 12 percent of the vote, securing 21 seats. Far right wing and generally populist parties did well in the March 5 election, while Ivy League graduates did poorly and voters fled traditional parties in droves. The extreme right nationalist Our Slovakia took 8 percent of the vote. Party leader Marian Kotelba is a neo-Nazi sympathizer who has expressed strident views against Slovakia's Roma minority.

Robert Fico managed to form a coalition cabinet composed of four very different parties that brought together center-left and right-wing parties, nationalists and a Hungarian party. After difficult, yet relatively short, post-election talks, the new government and National Council of the Slovak Republic was sworn in 23 March 2016 in Bratislava. Fico would serve his third term as prime minister. He had been in office since 2006 (with a short break in 2010-2011 during the Radicova cabinet). After his inauguration, the only current head of government in the EU that had served longer than Robert Fico was Angela Merkel of Germany.

Ficos center-left party Smer-SD was the strongest component of the coalition, taking seven out of 13 ministries. The minister of foreign and European affairs Miroslav Lajck, minister of finance Peter Kažimr and minister of the interior Robert Kalink stayed in their posts and thanks to the relevance of their portfolios they would probably be prominent figures in the context of the looming Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU starting in July 2016. The new government pledged to stay firmly on a pro-European and pro-Atlantic course.

In his first post-election interview for the TASR newswire, Prime Minister Robert Fico used even harsher statements than before the election when he rejected the obligatory refugee quotas proposed by the European Union, as well as a coherent Muslim community. Fico said on 25 May 2016 It may look strange but sorry... Islam has no place in Slovakia. He added that if anyone claims that Slovakia wants to be multi-cultural, they go against the very essence of the country. He fears that the arrival of thousands of Muslims who will push through their case would threaten the Cyrilo-Methodian traditions, on which Slovakia has been built.

Thousands of young Slovaks took to the streets in April 2017 to protest against alleged high-level corruption in the government of leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico. It was one of the biggest such protests in recent years and -unusually - organized by neither the opposition nor established NGOs.

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