Slovakia's Parliament Speaker Peter Pellegrini

Slovakia: Peter Pellegrini wins presidential elections

Slovakia's Parliament Speaker Peter Pellegrini

Slovakia’s Parliament Speaker Peter Pellegrini secured a win against pro-West career diplomat Ivan Korcok for the Slovak presidency in a runoff election held on Saturday, Politico reported.

The election result gives Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico’s ruling coalition full control over the executive and legislative branches of government. As 99.9 per cent of ballots have been counted, Peter Pellegrini received 53 per cent of the vote, while Korcok got 47 per cent votes. Pellegrini said, “This victory is an enormous vindication for me.”

Korcok accepted the defeat by saying, “I’m disappointed and bummed out, to be honest, but as a sportsman I have to respect the result.” He even criticised the aggressive campaign methods of the Pellegrini camp, Politico reported.

Notably, the Slovakian President has limited powers that include appointing ambassadors, returning legislation to parliament and issuing amnesties.

Pellegrini and his supporters’ campaigning for the polls demonstrated importance that Fico’s coalition government, which includes Pellegrini’s Hlas (Voice) party puts on controlling the presidency and rest of the executive branch.

After Korcok defeated Pellegrini by five percentage points in the first round of polls two weeks ago, the latter on March 24 vowed to “maintain decency” and “not to descend into aggressive tactics” before the runoff which was scheduled for Saturday.

Two days later, Fico called Korcok as “a warmonger who unhesitatingly supports everything the West tells him, including dragging Slovakia into [the Russia-Ukraine] war,” according to Politico report.

Ivan Korcok, who has previously served as Slovakia’s foreign minister and country’s permanent representative to the EU, said that it was actually Fico’s government and parliamentary majority, not the president, that had the power to start war as per the constitution of Slovakia.

Korcok said he saw no reason to send Slovakian soldiers to fight in Ukraine. However, he added that he supported Ukraine in its war against Russia as “Ukraine’s security increases our own security … It’s clear that if Ukraine loses the war, it brings war that much closer to our own border.”

While addressing a press conference on March 27, Slovakia’s minister of social affairs and a member of Pellegrini’s party, Erik Tomas, said, “I want to tell people, seniors and all at-risk groups, that if Korcok becomes president and this government falls, you will lose all your social benefits.”

Erik Tomas did not mention how Korcok could make the government to fall or what power the presidency had over social benefits, which needed to be approved by Tomas’ own ministry.

At the same press conference, Pellegrini spoke about the COVID-19 pandemic, which erupted during the previous 2020-2023 government when Korcok worked as foreign minister, Politico reported.

Offering support to pensioners, Peter Pellegrini said that “during the pandemic, they were locked up at home … they froze the minimum pensions, on which you can barely survive, and for several years they did not increase them even by a penny.”

Tomas announced a one-time payment of EUR300 to pensioners “as compensation and recompense for all these damages” and a Christmas pension bonus of EUR600.

On March 28, Slovakian Defence Minister Robert Kalinak said that some 20,000 Slovak soldiers and ministry employees would be receiving a EUR500 spring bonus.

Further, Slovakian Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok, who is also a member of Pellegrini’s Hlas party, said on social media that almost 24,000 police and firefighters would be receiving a EUR500 bonus in their next pay packets.

On April 5, members of Pellegrini’s party shared doctored pictures of a frail older woman embracing a man in military fatigues. While sharing the pictures, the members of the Hlas party wrote, “Come out and vote. Don’t let Slovak sons and grandsons die in war.” (ANI)

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