Slovak opposition fails to unite

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Ahead of the general election, Slovak opposition parties failed to agree on forming a broad alliance, a Bloc of Change, aimed to enhance their chances to oust the current government led by Smer-Social Democracy.

Although opposition leaders have repeatedly spoken of uniting to form a bloc against the ruling Smer-SD party, they will enter the February elections as separate parties.

Slovak voters are to elect the new parliament on Feb. 29, 2020, and, according to polls, the social democrats headed by former Prime Minister Robert Fico are the favorite again.

The deadline for submitting lists of political parties and candidates is the end of November.

Until now, opposition leaders had been flooding social media with promising posts mentioning a coalition agreement coming soon. In mid-October, they even performed together on stage in Bratislava and promised change.

“I’m optimistic; I’m convinced we’re going to defeat the evil together. The change is coming,” said Slovak ex-president and founder of the new For the People Party, Andrej Kiska.

Originally, his party was to join Richard Sulík’s Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party and the Progressive Slovakia movement, which had previously agreed on a coalition with the group Together.

Kiska, however, pushed for a six-party coalition, which would include Christian Democracy (KDH) and the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO) group of Igor Matovič.

According to Kiska, such a coalition would give the opposition a chance not only to win the election but also to win a majority in parliament. However, the plan failed, and on Nov. 21, Kiska announced that the For the People Party would not join any opposition party.

By failing to agree, the democratic bloc parties’ goal of winning the election against Smer-SD faces new difficulties. Some of the parties may even struggle to get into parliament. According to polls, at least three opposition parties are only polling slightly above the 5-percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini is now leading the Slovak government following the turbulent development in local politics that occurred in March 2018 after the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee.

In addition to Smer-SD, the coalition also includes the Slovak National Party (CIS) headed by Andrej Danko, and the Slovak-Hungarian Most-Híd party lead by Béla Bugár.

Voter support for Smer-SD dropped to about 20 percent, yet the party is again the favorite to win the election.

The opposition has previously ruled out possible cooperation with the social democrats and their coalition partners. Therefore, after the elections, the expected winner, Smer-SD, could remain without partners to form a government, resulting in political deadlock for Slovakia.

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