Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

A roadblock for Ukraine: The Slovakian Election


On September 30, 2023, the Direction – Slovak Social Democracy (SMER) party surprised many by garnering more votes than expected in Slovakia’s parliamentary elections. They won the largest share of votes with 22.95%. The results of this election will have significant implications for Slovakian foreign policy, and could even influence EU aid to Ukraine.

The SMER party is a populist, pro-Russian group that is currently led by Robert Fico. Fico, has held the title of Prime Minister twice in the past. But in order to secure the job once more, he must form a coalition with other parties.

Their primary opposition, Progressive Slovakia (PS), the liberal, pro-Ukraine party, won 17.96%. The center-left Hlas party came in third, receiving 14.70%, meaning they yield the most power in deciding the next ruling coalition. Four other parties also got above 5%.

Fico has been vocal about his plans towards the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He plans to initiate peace talks immediately. “More killing is not going to help anyone,” Fico said.

However, his peace plans would not favor Ukraine because they would likely involve territorial cessions to Russia. Fico has also announced his plans to cut off any Slovak military aid to Ukraine and block any attempts by Ukraine to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Michal Šimečka, the leader of PS, commented on a potential Fico-led government. “The fact of the matter is that SMER is the winner. And we of course respect that although we think it’s bad news for the country. And it will be even worse news if Mr Fico forms the government,” Šimečka said.

Mariia Marchuk, a Ukrainian student at Vanderbilt expressed concern regarding Slovakia’s pro-Russian views. “Many Slovaks, especially people of older age, harbor pro-Russian sentiments, which Moscow exploits to foster a favorable narrative within the country,” Marchuk said.

As a member of both NATO and the European Union (EU), Slovakia could brew up trouble under Fico’s leadership. Fico has already established good relations with Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban. Under Orban’s leadership, Hungary is currently ruled by a right-wing, populist government. Orban also congratulated Fico on SMER’s victory. “Always good to work together with a patriot. Looking forward to it!” Obran tweeted.

Orban is an autocratic ruler who has displayed many signs of disapproval of the EU. He has also opposed sending military aid to Ukraine. Orban also refused to aid the EU in supporting Ukrainian grain trade with Africa. 

Neighboring Poland is also under a far-right, conservative government, under the Law and Justice party. They have also ended their military support for Ukraine after trade conflicts between the two countries escalated. If Fico’s government comes to power, an alliance of these three Eastern European countries could spur conflicts within the EU and could create barriers for supplying arms support to Ukraine. Adding Slovakia to this mix is a recipe for disaster for Ukraine.

“Now, with Slovakia aligning with Hungary regarding military assistance to Ukraine, such a policy shift could potentially challenge the cohesion within the European Union and NATO, veering away from the joint European endorsement for Ukraine,” Marchuk said.

The EU has provided $27 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the war (or give a date). A strong opposition to this aid could delay and possibly reduce it. The EU’s military aid could be detrimental to Ukraine’s future because Ukraine is heavily dependent on the aid for military and humanitarian assistance. After the Slovakian election, Slovakia, along with others, can oppose EU aid to Ukraine. With rising opposition to Ukraine’s aid, exhaustion of their resources through prolonged war, and blockades to trade, the downfall of Ukraine could be imminent without external support. 

Image Citation: Robert Fico by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED

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About the Contributor
Shunnar Virani, Senior Editor
Shunnar Virani is a junior from Carrollton, Texas majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Law, History, and Society and minors in European Studies, Digital Fabrication, and Computer Science. His interests are in US political landscape, international law, and electoral politics. In his free time, Shunnar enjoys coding, reading, and writing poetry in Urdu.