Slovakia: who is Robert Fico, Prime Minister victim of an assassination attempt | TV5MONDE

Slovakia: who is Robert Fico, Prime Minister victim of an assassination attempt | TV5MONDE
Slovakia: who is Robert Fico, Prime Minister victim of an assassination attempt | TV5MONDE

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico sits “between life and death“after being injured by several bullets this May 15 after a cabinet meeting, indicated the government of this central European country. Robert Fico, whose ally was recently elected president, is “between life and death“, according to the government.

According to his official Facebook page, he was shot “several times“.”It is currently being transported by helicopter to Banska Bystrica“, a town in central Slovakia, the government further clarified in a press release.

The attack came after a cabinet meeting in Handlova, central Slovakia, according to the newspaper Dennik N, a reporter saw the head of government taken away in a car by bodyguards. According to the newspaper, the suspected shooter was apprehended by the police. “Today, after a government meeting in Handlova, there was an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister“, confirms the government.

Winner of the legislative elections

The populist Smer-Social Democratic (Smer-SD) party, led by Robert Fico, won the legislative elections in October 2023. He risks tilting the diplomatic balance of his country very clearly towards the Kremlin. The party obtained 23.3% of the vote, ahead of the centrist Progressive Slovakia (17%), after almost all the votes were counted.

Born September 15, 1964, Robert Fico began his political career within the Communist Party just before the Velvet Revolution of 1989 swept away the regime of the former Czechoslovakia. In 1999, he left the Democratic Left Party (SDL), the political heir of the Communist Party, to found Smer-SD. A lawyer by profession, fluent in English, he built a European reputation as his country’s representative to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg from 1994 to 2000.

Admirer of Vladimir Putin

According to Slovak sociologist Michal Vasecka, Robert Fico admires the authoritarianism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The former Prime Minister recently assured that “the war in Ukraine began in 2014 when Ukrainian fascists killed civilian victims of Russian nationality“In this way, he adopts unproven Russian assertions.”Its relationship with Russia is historically determined by the socialist motto ‘With the Soviet Union for eternity’“, adds Michal Vasecka in a book he dedicated to him.

During his election campaign, 59-year-old Robert Fico vowed that Slovakia would not send “a single ammunition” to Ukraine. He also called for better relations with Russia. However, he refutes the qualifiers of “populist” And “demagogue”. “We believe that Ukraine is a huge tragedy for everyone. If the Smer is responsible for forming a cabinet (…), we will do our best to hold peace talks as soon as possible“, he told journalists.

While he condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he takes up the thesis according to which the Kremlin is defending itself from broader aggression from NATO. He is in favor of setting up negotiations and believes that the European Union is fueling the escalation of the conflict through its increasing arms deliveries.

Close to populist governments

To govern, Robert Fico plans to create an alliance with the far-right Republika party and the nationalists of the Slovak National Party (SNS). Such a team would be welcomed by neighboring Hungary led by Viktor Orban, an ultra-conservative nationalist. The latter is looking for allies in the European Council to block decisions against Russia.

Eastern Europe hit by a populist wave

  • Slovakia is one of the Eastern European countries to have elected populist and nationalist leaders.
  • This is particularly the case of the Polandwhere the nationalist conservatives of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice (PiS) party won a second four-year term in the 2019 legislative elections. The next elections are due to be held on October 15, 2023.
  • Viktor Orban is Prime Minister of the Hungary since 2010 and is considered a figure of populism.
  • Other countries, such as Austria or Latvia, were governed by populist leaders, but saw the balance tip in a different direction in their last elections.

In 2006, when he found himself propelled to the post of prime minister after the Smer-SD’s landslide victory in Parliament, he formed a coalition with the SNS. This party shares its anti-refugee rhetoric and populist leanings, then took advantage of the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 to boost its popularity by refusing to impose austerity measures.

During the migration crisis in Europe in 2015, Robert Fico took a tough stance against migrants. He refused to “give rise to a distinct Muslim community in Slovakia” and criticized the European quota program aimed at redistributing refugees. Smer-SD won the 2016 elections, but Mr. Fico’s last term as head of government ended two years later, after the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée This crime sparked a wave of anti-government protests across Slovakia, with Jan Kuciak denouncing links between the Italian mafia and the Fico government in his last posthumously published article.



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