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Slovakia faces fiercest battle for presidential palace in 25 years

The first round of the presidential election in Slovakia is behind us. In two weeks, the country will face its fiercest clash since the 1999 vote. Standing in the political ring will be Peter Pellegrini, leader of the coalition party Voice - Social Democracy, and Ivan Korčok, a diplomat backed by the opposition.
Krytyka Polityczna

Both candidates have already managed to win as many voters as no candidate has won in the first round since the historic 1999 election, when the president was first directly elected. At that time, Vladimir Mečiar and Rudolf Schuster faced off.

Last Saturday, Ivan Korčok collected 958,000 votes (42.51 percent) and Peter Pellegrini 834,000 (37.02 percent). Turnout reached a record high of 51.8 percent, slightly higher than in 2009, when Iveta Radičová and Ivan Gašparovič faced off (51.67 percent).

The results of the first round showed that voters of both major candidates are highly motivated. Nevertheless, the projections of the second indicate a result that lies on the border of statistical error.

Despite Ivan Korčok’s clear win in the first round, which was not predicted by any polls, his victory in the second round is not a foregone conclusion. Polls so far point to one winner of the second round – Peter Pellegrini.

Korčok will have to attract voters from other candidates, such as Igor Matovič, Ján Kubiš and Krisztián Forró. Young people who come from abroad for the second round of elections will also be an opportunity for Korčok. The organization Mladi proti fašizm has announced that a special free train will leave Prague and Brno with Slovak students studying in the Czech Republic on a daily basis.

Pellegrini can count on some portion of the 264,000. votes gained by Štefan Harabin. These are the most anti-system, pro-Russian, nationalist voters, who, if they go to vote in the second round, will transfer votes to the government candidate. However, Harabin himself is now criticizing both candidates and advising his constituents to stay home.

So far, the campaign has been bland. Pellegrini pretended for months that there were no elections, and acted as if he was already president. Therefore, the upcoming campaign promises to be extremely exciting and confrontational. Already before the first round, police warned against the spread of deepfakes and fake recordings.

The most important conclusion to be drawn from the first round of elections is that those who oppose the complete surrender of power to a government that attacks the rule of law and independent media won. There is still hope for Slovakia.

– Aleksandra Pyka

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Funded by the European Union. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs. Communication Networks, Content and Technology. Neither the European Union nor the funding body is responsible for them.

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