Slovakia’s Fico loses majority amid extreme right poll gains

epa05197131 Slovakian Prime Minister and Chairman of Direction ? Social Democracy (SMER) party, Robert Fico, during a press conference after the announcement of election results, at the SMER party election headquarters in Bratislava, Slovakia, 06 March 2016. Reports state that early results indicate that Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has won the general election but SMER party lost its majority in parliament  EPA/FILIP SINGER

Bratislava / AFP

Slovakia’s leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Sunday he would begin difficult coalition talks after he won elections on a anti-refugee platform but lost his parliamentary majority as smaller parties, including the extreme right, scored first-time seats.
A conservative party leader described the outcome as a “big earthquake” in Slovak politics, as analysts cautioned that Fico would struggle to build a governing coalition with a total of eight parties reaching the five percent threshold to enter parliament.
With 99 percent of votes counted, Fico’s Smer-Social Democrats (Smer-SD) party had 49 seats, down sharply from his comfortable 83-seat majority in the 150 member parliament.
Having earlier dubbed the result a “big mishmash” of parties, Fico announced on Sunday morning the start of coalition talks.
“Today we begin the first preliminary negotiations”, vowing to “try to assemble a meaningful and stable government.”
“It isn’t going to be easy. We’ll have to do everything to rule out the likelihood of early elections.”
The liberal Freedom and Solidarity SaS came second with 21 seats, followed by the conservative OLANO-NOVA which took 19 seats. Its leader Igor Matovic told Slovakia’s TASR news agency: “This is a big earthquake.”

‘Fascists in parliament’
Building a coalition “could take weeks, even months”, political analyst Samuel Abraham said, adding that for Fico to clinch his third term, he would likely “distance himself” from the far right and woo three or four centrist parties like SaS.
The far-right Slovak National Party (SNS) made it back into parliament after a four-year absence with 15 seats.
The extreme right nationalist LS-Nase Slovensko (Our Slovakia) led by Marian Kotleba secured 14 seats to enter parliament for the first time.
“It will be a major disaster at the time when the Slovak Republic will preside over the European Union to have fascists in our parliament,” Smer-SD MEP Monika Flasikova Benova said Saturday.
“Kotleba is a neo-Nazi… Fico used nationalist rhetoric regarding migrants and this strengthened the extreme right in Slovakia,” Abraham added.
Another analyst, Abel Ravasz, said “Fico will need at least two to three partners to form a coalition and a government.
“The opposition can only form a government if it can gather six centrist and right parties in an alliance”.

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