Slovakia poll: PM Fico to win general election

Despite expected win, anti-immigrant Smer party likely to lose its comfortable parliamentary majority.

    According to an early exit poll, incumbent leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico won Slovakia's Saturday general election, but lost his comfortable parliamentary majority on the back of a strident anti-refugee platform.

    An exit poll late on Saturday by the private Markiza TV station showed his Smer-Social Democrats (Smer-SD) party taking 27.3 percent of the vote followed by the liberal Freedom and Solidarity SaS with 13.3 percent and conservative OLANO-NOVA which took 11.2 percent.

    Final results are expected on Sunday.

    At least seven other parties entered parliament according to the poll, including the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS) with eight percent, touted by analysts as a possible Fico coalition partner.

    It's "a big mishmash and a huge number of political parties in parliament", Fico told reporters as he arrived at his Smer-SD party headquarters minutes ahead of the end of voting.

    The extreme right nationalist LS-Nase Slovensko (Our Slovakia) led by Marian Kotleba also made it into the 150-seat parliament with 6.8 percent, according to the Markiza poll.

    Two other parties, Most-Hid (Bridge) representing the ethnic Hungarian minority took 7.30 percent support, while the liberal Siet (The Net) party made its debut in parliament with 6.7 percent.

    Fico's strongly anti-refugee policies echo those of other hardliners in the EU's poorer ex-communist east, including Czech President Milos Zeman, Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban and Poland's Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

    All have shunned refugees as Europe grapples with its worst migration and humanitarian crisis since World War II. 

    Fico is credited with solid economic management - Slovakia is one of the eurozone's most financially sound countries and remains popular with foreign investors, particularly car makers.

    But unemployment of more than 10 percent and vast regional differences in wealth, as well as low healthcare and education standards, have disappointed many voters.

    Most opposition parties agree with Fico's views that Muslims cannot integrate into predominantly Catholic Slovakia and pose a security threat, although they use less aggressive language.

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    SOURCE: Reuters


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