The center-left Smer-Social Democrats party appeared to be the winner of a parliamentary election in Slovakia on Saturday. The party is likely to need a partner if it is to push ahead with a largely populist agenda.
Slovakia's center-left Smer-Social Democrats party appeared to have won a parliamentary election on Saturday, with almost 40 percent of the vote, exit polls showed.
Although Smer, led by former Prime Minister Robert Fico, appeared to be easily the largest party, its chances of winning a stable outright majority appeared slim. A poll for Slovak state television by the Focus agency showed Smer in the lead with 39.6 percent of the vote, equivalent to 75 of the legislature's 150 seats. The center-right Christian Democrats (KDH) were in second place with 9.9 percent.
However, another survey by pollsters MVK showed Smer on 37.3 percent with just 69 seats. KDH was again placed second with 10.8 percent.
If unable to gain a majority, Fico would need to seek a coalition partner to form a majority cabinet.
"Slovakia needs a strong coalition government. I believe the official results will meet our expectations," Fico said after the vote.
The ex-premier is considered a populist leader, dedicated to maintaining a welfare state and advocating higher taxes for businesses and top earners.
The outgoing four-party ruling coalition - including the KDH and Slovak Democratic party - was expected to gain 31.4 percent of the vote, or 59 seats, following a major corruption scandal.
rc/ai (AFP, AP, dpa)