By Karel Janicek, AP
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia–A leftist party led by one of the few leading politicians in Slovakia to escape voter anger over a major corruption scandal has been propelled back into power in an early parliamentary election, according to final results Sunday. Smer-Social Democracy of former Prime Minister Robert Fico is a clear winner with 44.4 percent of the vote, or 83 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, with votes from all 5,956 polling stations counted. The result allows Fico to govern alone — one party rule has not happened in Slovakia since the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993. On Sunday, he offered opposition parties a chance to join forces and form a two-party coalition government, but all other parliamentary parties rejected that. Before the election, Fico discussed a necessity to create a strong, stable government, possibly formed by two parties, amid another economic downturn and efforts to save the eurozone. Fico — considered a populist leader — has pledged to maintain a welfare state, increase corporate tax and hike income tax for the highest earners. “We succeeded with what we offered as an alternative,” Fico said early Sunday. “We’ve achieved a result that is a pleasant surprise for us, to be honest.” The outgoing center-right, four-party coalition received a combined 51 seats, on the back of voter anger over a major corruption scandal. The new Ordinary People party that campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket won 16 seats, while the ultranationalist Slovak National Party, known for derogatory comments about ethnic Hungarians, Roma and political opponents, ended below the 5-percent threshold needed to win parliamentary representation. Turnout was surprisingly high at 59.11 percent. Analysts had predicted a record low turnout, as voters were expected to register their anger over allegations that a private financial group bribed government and opposition politicians in 2005-06 to win lucrative privatization deals. The “Gorilla” files — posted online by an anonymous source in December and said to be based on wiretaps — have rocked Slovak politics. One former economy minister is said to have received the equivalent of 10 million euros (US$13 million) for his assistance. Outgoing Prime Minister Iveta Radicova’s Slovak Democratic and Christian Union was hard hit by the allegations.
“It’s clear … Gorilla is to blame,” Dzurinda said. “It’s a serious loss.” Disappointed by her government’s collapse, Radicova is quitting politics and plans to lecture at Britain’s Oxford University. She was Slovakia’s first female prime minister.