[QODLink]
Europe

Slovaks vote in presidential elections

Current Prime Minister Fico is poised to win, sparking concern that one party could monopolise power.

Last updated: 15 Mar 2014 09:41
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Fico is the leading contender among 14 candidates [Reuters]

Slovaks have began voting in the first round of a presidential election that Prime Minister Robert Fico is poised to win, sparking concern that his party could monopolise power.

Victory on Saturday for the ex-Communist Fico would mean the presidency, parliament and government is controlled by the same party, the Social Democrats, for the first time since Slovakia won independence in 1993.

Fico, 49, has earned valuable political capital during his two terms as prime minister with an anti-austerity agenda tempered by fiscal discipline, according to the AFP news agency.

He commands around 35 percent support in opinion polls and is most likely to face non-partisan millionaire-turned-philanthropist Andrej Kiska in a possible runoff vote set for March 29.

Kiska, 51 and without a Communist party past, has scored 24 percent support in pre-election polls and is seen as politically untainted.

Other, less popular contenders include actor Milan Knazko, a leading figure from the 1989 Velvet Revolution that peacefully dismantled Communism in what was then Czechoslovakia; Radoslav Prochazka, a constitutional lawyer; and former parliament speaker Pavol Hrusovsky, a Christian Democrat.

Presidential system

Fico would need to get more than 50 percent of votes cast on Saturday to avoid a runoff.

The prospect of Fico consolidating his power has galvanised both the political class and voters in the country of 5.4 million, which joined the European Union in 2004 and the eurozone in 2009.

The election has become "a referendum on Robert Fico's government and the concentration of power", Grigorij Meseznikov from the Bratislava-based Institute for Public Affairs told AFP.

A Fico win would trigger a reshuffle in his one-party government, but it would still control a comfortable 83-seat majority in the 150-member parliament until the 2016 general elections.

287

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.