Who is Robert Fico, the Slovak Prime Minister “between life and death” after being shot?

Returning to power in October 2023 in Slovakia, this 59-year-old politician had already led his country’s government between 2006 and 2010, then from 2012 to 2018. A former communist who became a social democrat, he took a nationalist and populist turn.


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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico during a press conference in Budapest, Hungary, January 16, 2024. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)

His days are endangered. The Slovak Prime Minister, Robert Fico, was the victim of a “assassination attempt”, Wednesday May 15, announced the government. The 59-year-old leader was shot “several times” after a political meeting in Handlova, in the center of the country, and was taken by helicopter to a hospital. The man has been part of the Slovak political landscape for more than thirty years.

Born in 1964 into a working-class family, this racing car and bodybuilding enthusiast began his career within the Communist Party in 1989, just before the Velvet Revolution swept away the regime of the former Czechoslovakia, recalls Guardian. Ten years later, he left the Democratic Left Party (SDL), the political heir of the Communist Party, to found Smer-Social Democracy (Smer-SD).

It only took seven years for the movement, which had become populist and nationalist, to win a landslide victory in the legislative elections in 2006. Two years after Slovakia’s accession to the European Union, Robert Fico found himself catapulted to the post of Prime Minister . He then built a coalition with the Slovak National Party (SNS), a far-right movement, sharing its anti-refugee rhetoric and populist leanings. He took advantage of the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 to strengthen his popularity, refusing to impose austerity measures in his country.

Returned to the opposition in 2010, Robert Fico returned to power two years later, after the fall of a center-right coalition amid allegations of corruption. Despite a disappointment in 2014, when his presidential ambitions were dashed by the victory of political novice Andrej Kiska, he remained at the head of the government until 2018.

He was then pushed to resign by a wave of demonstrations born after the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée. This reporter was preparing to reveal compromising information against the Slovak government, accused of being corrupt and linked to the Italian mafia. Robert Fico, however, managed to keep his seat in Parliament, before regaining power in October 2023, after his party’s victory in the legislative elections.

This third term of Robert Fico is closely scrutinized by the Twenty-Seven, underline The echoes. This professional lawyer, fluent in English, built a reputation in Strasbourg and Brussels as his country’s representative to the European Court of Human Rights, from 1994 to 2000. Close to the Hungarian Prime Minister eurosceptic Viktor Orban, he also openly attacks the EU.

Like his Hungarian counterpart, Robert Fico defends an anti-immigration policy, not hesitating to make xenophobic statements. During the campaign for the last legislative elections, he affirmed that “Even God does not know who among the migrants is a terrorist or who carries an infectious disease”. During the 2015 migration crisis, he had already adopted a tough stance towards migrants, refusing to “give birth to a distinct Muslim community in Slovakia” and criticizing the EU’s quota program aimed at distributing refugees between different member states.

More recently, Robert Fico also attacked the LGBT+ community. He notably criticized marriage for all and declared that adoption by same-sex couples was a “perversion”reports the Guardian.

Robert Fico is also known for his pro-Russian positions. The head of the Slovak government recently assured that “the war in Ukraine began in 2014, when Ukrainian fascists killed civilian victims of Russian nationality”, adopting the Kremlin’s rhetoric. He also affirmed that he would not authorize the arrest of Vladimir Putin, despite being subject to an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, if the Russian president one day visited Slovakia.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Bratislava, a member of the EU and NATO, has provided substantial military aid to kyiv. But, even before his re-election, Robert Fico had undertaken to no longer deliver “only one bullet” to Ukraine once in power. A promise quickly followed by effects. In the fall, theThe new executive thus blocked an arms delivery decided by the previous government, amounting to 40.3 million euros.

Robert Fico was also accused of threatening the rule of law, with reforms such as the replacement of public broadcasting – raising fears of a political takeover of the public information service – or the abolition of the special prosecutor’s office, responsible for major cases of corruption and organized crime – and whose investigations target several officials from Robert Fico’s party.

source site-25