Populist ally Pellegrini wins Slovak presidential election

Populist ally Pellegrini wins Slovak presidential election

An ally of the populist government, Peter Pellegrini, won the presidential elections in Slovakia on Saturday, beating by a large margin the pro-European diplomat Ivan Korcok in the second round, according to the semi-final results.

Mr. Pellegrini, an economist by training, received 53.20% of the vote compared to 46.80% for Mr. Korcok, according to figures published by the Slovak Statistical Office, which cover 99.8% of the vote.

Analysts had expected a tougher result.

“It is a huge relief,” Mr. Pellegrini said in a speech to supporters.

He stressed: “I want to be a president who defends the national interests of Slovakia.”

He stressed that he wanted to do everything “so that Slovakia remains on the side of peace and not on the side of war.”

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been a key element of the election campaign in the country of 5.4 million, especially since populist Prime Minister Robert Fico, a longtime ally of Mr. Pellegrini, has questioned Kiev's sovereignty and called for peace with Moscow.

Pellegrini was a minister in Fico's previous governments. He even replaced him as prime minister after his government fell in 2018, following the shooting deaths of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée in their home.

The double murder sparked a wave of protests across the country, forcing Mr Fico to resign.

In his final article, published posthumously, Mr. Kuciak exposed the links between the Italian mafia and Fico's government.

“The Urban Way”?

The current government, which consists of Mr. Fico's Smer-SD party, Mr. Pellegrini's Hlas-SD party, and the small far-right SNS party, has also cut off military aid to neighboring Ukraine.

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“If Pellegrini wins, Slovakia could follow Orban’s path,” analyst Tomas Kuziaka said, referring to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is supportive of the Kremlin.

Mr. Korcok admitted defeat and congratulated his opponent.

“I would like to congratulate the winner of the election, Peter Pellegrini,” the former foreign secretary told the press and supporters.

He also expressed his hope that “Peter Pellegrini will be independent and act according to his own convictions and without orders,” in a clear reference to the close relationship between the next president and Prime Minister Robert Fico.

But he also criticized his opponent for his “non-transparent campaign.”

“Dislikes”

“It turns out that it is possible to become president of the Slovak Republic by spreading hatred,” he said, criticizing Mr. Pellegrini and his camp for presenting him during the election campaign as a “war candidate,” in favor of Slovakia’s involvement in the war. Conflict in Ukraine.

Pellegrini will replace Liberal President Zuzana Caputova.

Although his powers are limited, the president ratifies international treaties, appoints chief judges, and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He can also veto laws passed by Parliament.

Pellegrini is scheduled to officially become president of Slovakia on June 15.

This bachelor was called “the sexiest politician in Slovakia” by women's magazines some time ago.

When announcing his candidacy, he said that he lives alone, adding: “If I am elected president, the first lady or anyone will not accompany me.”

In addition to his native language, Mr. Pellegrini speaks Russian, German and English.

The participation rate in the second round of voting rose to 61.12% on Saturday.

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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