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Slovakia: Ukraine-skeptic Pellegrini wins presidential race

Published April 6, 2024last updated April 7, 2024

Peter Pellegrini of the ruling nationalist coalition is set to become Slovakia's president after defeating opposition independent Ivan Korcok. The ruling coalition is opposed to providing Ukraine with military aid.

Slovakian President-elect Peter Pellegrini
Pellegrini has expressed sympathies towards Russia and believes Slovakia should sometimes be skeptical of the views expressed by leaders in the EU and NATOImage: Denes Erdos/AP/picture alliance

Peter Pellegrini of the left-wing nationalist Hlas-SD party has won Slovakia's presidential election, official results showed.

Pellegrini's Hlas-SD is part of the ruling coalition, while opposition candidate Ivan Korcok is an independent.

Pellegrini received 53.85% of the vote with ballots from over 98% of polling stations counted. Korcok garnered 46.14% of votes.

Korcok conceded defeat and congratulated the winner.

"I am honestly disappointed. But I'm an athlete, so I can respect even this result. I want to congratulate the winner," Korcok said. "I want to express my belief that Peter Pellegrini will be independent and will act according to his own convictions and without orders," he added.

A man casts his vote for the  presidential election at a polling station in Bratislava, Slovakia on April 6
Slovakia's president ratifies international treaties, appoints top judges, is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and can veto laws passed by parliamentImage: Denes Erdos/AP/picture alliance

Who are the candidates in Slovakia's presidential election?

Korcok was Slovakia's envoy to the EU and later ambassador to the United States. He has also served as minister of foreign and European affairs. 

Pellegrini, meanwhile, is in a coalition with Prime Minister Robert Fico of the left-wing nationalist Smer-SD party, which won the parliamentary election in September 2023. Also a junior partner in the coalition is the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS).

Pellegrini was a long-time ally of Fico, but later split off to form Hlas-SD, which is more centrist than Fico's Smer-SD.

Slovak presidential candidate Ivan Korcok
Korcok is a firm supporter of the EU and NATOImage: Petr David Josek/AP

Outgoing President Zuzana Caputova of the liberal opposition Progressive Slovakia party is not seeking reelection.

Korcok's candidacy has been endorsed by Progressive Slovakia, the conservative Christian Democratic Movement, the neoliberal Saska party and a number of smaller opposition parties.

Slovakia's president ratifies international agreements, appoints high-level judges, is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and can veto laws passed by parliament.

Ukraine support on the agenda in tight race

The election was expected to be tight, with Korcok maintaining a slight lead in polls.

Korcok is a strong supporter of providing Ukraine with arms deliveries.

Slovakian presidential candidate Peter Pellegrini
Peter Pellegrini believes that the ongoing war in Ukraine cannot be ended militarilyImage: Petr David Josek/AP

Fico has vowed not to supply Ukraine with military aid.

Pellegrini portrayed Korcok as a war-monger during the election campaign and suggested the independent candidate could drag Slovak troops into the war if elected.

Korcok has urged voters to give him support to limit the government's executive power.

sdi/wd (Reuters, AFP)