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Slovakia: Ruling Smer party faces unprecedented crisis after EU election defeat

Bratislava, Slovakia – The once all-dominant Smer party is facing an unprecedented crisis after being severely defeated in last week’s European elections.

Smer party suffers worst election results in Slovakia in nearly two decades

As local Sme daily reports, several member of the Smer party have urged chairman and former Prime Minister Robert Fico to resign in the wake of their party’s electoral defeat. Never before had Slovakia’s strongman faced such direct criticism from within his own ranks and the party faced such rebellion since it was founded in 1999.

Last week’s EU election results were the worst since 2002 for Smer, which received less than 16% of the votes, behind the liberal alliance between Spolu (Together) and Progressive Slovakia – whose candidate Zuzana Caputova had already beaten their nominee in the presidential election earlier this year.

Smer election results since 2002 (national + European elections) / Source:

Smer members call for Fico and Kalinak to resign

In a letter sent on Tuesday to the party’s leadership and regional offices, Smer representatives from Kosice, the country’s second largest city in the east, have called on Robert Fico and Robert Kalinak to step down as party chairman and deputy-chairman respectively and leave their posts “with dignity, without provoking conflicts within the party”.

Former Prime Minister and former Interior Minister, Robert Fico and Robert Kalinak stepped down from their cabinet posts in the wake of Jan Kuciak’s murder last year. Both men however kept control of Smer, the country’s dominant party since 2006.

Slovak PM Peter Pellegrini doesn’t rule out stepping down

The representatives also urged the Smer leadership to issue a public and collective apology for losing the trust of their supporters, claiming to have noticed “a dramatic decline in the number of members willing to actively take part in the party’s activities and the willingness […] to identify with the party in public”.

Peter Pellegrini, who replaced Fico as Prime Minister last year, also suggested he could resign from his post, arguing that Smer faces a “decisive time” ahead and needs to reform ahead of next year’s national elections.

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