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Slovakia’s Fico inches closer to clinching third term as PM

Update: March, 15/2016 - 09:00

BRATISLAVA — Slovakia’s leftist Premier Robert Fico inched closer to forging a governing coalition on Monday, after marathon talks with three right-wing and centrist parties resulted in a "complete proposal of programme priorities" and further negotiations.

"Our negotiations were difficult... But we didn’t come across questions or topics that would definitively divide us," Fico told reporters after eight hours of discussions with prospective coalition partners.

The four parties agreed to meet again on Tuesday afternoon, Fico added.

"We’ll decide about the definitive programme priorities that could be part of an agreement on cooperation of the four parties in the process of creation of a government," he said.

Campaigning on a strident anti-refugee platform, Fico’s leftist Smer-Social Democracy (Smer-SD) won the March 5 general election, but lost his 83-seat majority.

Smer-SD now controls just 49 of the 150-seats in parliament and has until March 18 to secure at least 26 others for a majority.

Fico appeared upbeat late Monday after the talks with the 15-seat conservative, eurosceptic Slovak National Party (SNS), the 11-seat Most-Hid (Bridge) Hungarian minority party and the 10-seat liberal Siet (The Net) party.

A coalition deal could create a stable 85-seat majority. However, three Siet MPs have warned they intend to leave the party should it agree to govern with Fico.

Despite bearing different political stripes, his leftist Smer-SD and the right-wing SNS forged a coalition government in 2006-10.

Both campaigned on a strident anti-migrant platform ahead of the March 5 election.

The political horse-trading comes as Slovakia is gearing up to take the EU’s rotating presidency from July -- a role that will put the health of its democracy under the spotlight.

The March 5 election yielded a fragmented result, with a record eight parties entering parliament including the debut of the extreme right-wing LS-Nase Slovensko (Our Slovakia) led by Marian Kotleba with 14 seats.

Kotleba is known for harsh anti-Roma and anti-migrant rhetoric and for leading street marches with party member dressed in black neo-Nazi black uniforms. All parties have ruled out cooperating with him. — AFP


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