Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini will be the leader of the Slovak senior government Smer-Social Democracy (Smer-SD) during upcoming elections, Smer-SD Chairman Robert Fico announced.
At a press conference after the Nov. 27 party meeting, former Prime Minister Robert Fico commented on speculations surrounding his allegedly hostile relationship with Pellegrini.
“Rumor has it that we are fighting … Peter, I keep my fingers crossed for you. We have to get each other’s back,” Fico said.
For the first time in 20 years as chairman of Smer-SD, Fico is number two of the nationwide candidates’ list. But he remains at the head of the party, saying that Smer-SD has only decided to make an important change.
Last year, Pellegrini replaced Fico as prime minister due to mass protests following the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kušnírová.
According to Slovak daily Denník N, it is clear from the staffing of the first positions of the candidates’ list that Fico’s influence is still strong in the party. Interior Minister Denisa Saková, who is loyal to the party’s chairman, is number three on the list.
On the other hand, the former vice-president of the parliament, Martin Glváč, is not among the approved candidates. Glváč left his office due to contacts with Marián Kočner, a businessman accused of ordering Kuciak’s murder.
It was Kočner who had significantly harmed Smer-SD’s reputation. In recent months, the media has reported in detail about Kočner’s mafia practices and contacts at the highest levels of government, politics, and justice.
According to the latest AKO agency survey, Smer-SD’s voter support fell to 18 percent. Even so, the party continues to be the strongest political force in the country.