(Reuters) – Slovak opposition party SMER-SDD, led by former prime minister Robert Fico, held a shrinking lead over its liberal challenger Progresivne Slovensko before a Sept. 30 election, according to AKO agency’s latest poll .
AKO’s poll, conducted for TV JOJ among 1,000 participants between Sept. 5-11, put support for SMER-SDD at 19.4% to 18.2% for Progresivne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia), showing a slightly narrower gap than last month.
Issues like illegal migration and the war in neighbouring Ukraine have polarised Slovak society before the election, with Fico, a former prime minister who quit in 2018 in the wake of the murder of a journalist that spurred mass protests, aiming to put his SMER-SSD party back in power.
He has pledged to defend national interests in the European Union and in foreign policy, end military support for Ukraine while seeking a diplomatic solution, and oppose any sanctions on Russia that could hurt Slovakia – amounting to a sharp reversal in Slovak policies of recent years.
The Progressive Slovakia party’s leader Michal Simecka has warned the change could see Slovakia slide into isolation, and he has promised to maintain support for Ukraine as it fights a Russian invasion, in line with EU and NATO partners.
The poll showed no party is expected to win a majority. Coalition building hinges on the performance of a handful of small parties, from liberal to pro-Russian nationalist.
The poll put the HLAS (Voice) party led by former prime minister and SMER member Peter Pellegrini in a solid third place. Pellegrini has not indicated which way he could lean in coalition building after the September vote.
|SMER-SSD||HLAS||Progresivne Slovensko||SaS||OLANO-led coalition||Republika||KDH||SME RODINA||SNS||DEMOKRATI|
NOTE: threshold for parties to win seats is 5% and 7% for coalitions
* SMER-SSD- Direction-Slovak Social Democracy (leftist party of three-time prime minister Robert Fico)
* HLAS- Voice (leftist party of former prime minister Peter Pellegrini who split from SMER)
* Progresivne Slovensko- Progressive Slovakia (liberal party)
* SaS-Sloboda a Solidarita- Freedom and Solidary (liberal former ruling party)
* OLANO- Ordinary People and Independent Personalities-OLANO (centrist, anti-graft former ruling party)
* Republika- Republic (far-right party)
* KDH- Christian Democrat Movement (Christian conservative party)
* SME RODINA- We Are Family (centrist former ruling party)
* SNS- Slovak National Party (nationalist party)
* DEMOKRATI- Democrats (centrist, pro-European party led by former prime minister Eduard Heger)