Support for Slovakia's ruling party declines before election

Support for Slovakia’s ruling leftist party declines to 32.1 percent from 44.4 percent in 2012 elections

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, pictured on June 22, 2015, maintained his opposition to mandatory migrant quotas as the EU unveiled plans to force the bloc to share 160,000 refugees.

Support for Slovakia's ruling leftist Smer party is at its lowest for more than year ahead of a March election, suggesting that it will not only not win a majority but that it may even have tough time forming a coalition, a poll showed on Thursday.

MVK opinion polls have shown declining support for Smer in the past several months, although other agencies show its support as steady at between about 37 percent and 41 percent.

The latest MVK survey shows Smer would win 58 seats in the 150-seat parliament and with the nationalist SNS party, its most likely ally, it would command the slimest possible majority of 76 seats.

Smer support stands at 32.1 percent, the poll showed, below last month's 34.5 percent and well below the 44.4 percent it won in 2012 that gave the party an overall parliamentary majority.

A newcomer centrist party, Siet, which has sought to establish itself as the main opposition force, polled 14.6 percent in the MVK survey, from 14.7 a month ago.

A strong result for Siet and other center-right and ethnic Hungarian parties could lead to either a wider coalition led by Smer, a grand coalition of Siet with Smer or a wide coalition of opposition parties that would eject Smer from power.

The make-up of parliament remains uncertain, however, given that several parties have been polling close to the 5 percent threshold for winning seats. The fewer parties make it to parliament, the easier it will be for Smer to form a government.

Smer leader and Prime Minister Robert Fico has made immigration a main platform of his campaign for the March 5 vote, while the opposition has campaigned on an anti-corruption rhetoric and plans for business-friendly reforms.

The government has taken a tough anti-immigration stance and filed a lawsuit against the European Commission's plan for mandatory quotas to share out 160,000 asylum seekers among the EU's 28 member states.

It has also taken advantage of an economic recovery to cement its popularity by welfare spending while keeping the budget deficit within EU rules.

But despite pre-election handouts the government has faced public protests in the past weeks by teachers and nurses demanding pay hikes.

Fico has taken a tough stance against the teachers' strike, while a separate opinion poll released on Thursday showed 51.7 percent of Slovaks supported the teachers' demands.

TRTWorld, Reuters