Slovakia’s populist opposition wins parliamentary election

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — The center-right populist opposition claimed victory in the parliamentary election in Slovakia, ending the reign of the country’s long dominant but scandal-tainted leftist party that governed on an anti-immigration platform.

According to nearly complete results released by the Statistics Office early Sunday, the Ordinary People group captured 25% of the vote and 53 seats in the 150-seat parliament in a move that steered the country to the right and could make a local ally of France’s far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen a part of the governing coalition.

“We will try to form the best government Slovakia’s ever had,” Ordinary People chairman Igor Matovic told a cheering crowd of 2,000 supporters in a sports hall in his hometown of Trnava, located northeast of the capital.

Officials measured the temperature of every person coming over the new coronavirus fears. Slovakia hasn’t a single case confirmed yet.

The senior ruling leftist Smer-Social Democracy party led by former populist Prime Minister Robert Fico was in second with 18.3% or 38 seats.

Smer has been in power for most of the past 14 years, winning big in every election since 2006. It gained 28.3% in the last election in 2016 after campaigning on an anti-migrant ticket. But the party was damaged by political turmoil following the 2018 slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

In what would be a further blow for Smer, its two current coalition partners, the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party and a party of ethnic Hungarians looked like they wouldn’t win any seats.

Pro-western Matovic, 46, has made fighting corruption and attacking Fico the central tenet of his campaign. An anti-corruption drive has been in his party’s program since he established it 10 years ago.