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Slovakia Elects Peter Pellegrini as President: A Shift in Foreign Policy?

Written by Nico Fodor

Edited by Queenie Lin and Annika Lilja

In a closely watched presidential election, Slovakia chose Peter Pellegrini, a left-wing nationalist government candidate, as its new president. A former prime minister and ally of Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico, Pellegrini defeated pro-Western candidate Ivan Korčok with 53% of the votes. He campaigned on a platform emphasizing peace and national unity,  vowing to support the government’s efforts to improve people’s lives and emphasizing Slovakia’s commitment to peace over war. Pellegrini’s win consolidates the influence of Fico over Slovakia, as he and his allies control the parliament, government, and now the president’s office, creating more of a unanimous support for Fico’s concept of a “sovereign Slovak foreign policy.”

The election outcome suggests a change in Slovakia’s foreign policy, particularly towards Ukraine. Under Fico’s leadership, Slovakia suspended the official shipments of weapons to Ukraine, and both Fico and Pellegrini have voiced concerns about Western military support for the country. This stance has caused concern among Ukraine’s allies, as Slovakia was once one of Ukraine’s most determined supporters in the EU and NATO. Pellegrini’s campaign echoed some of Fico's Russia-friendly speech, calling Korčok a “warmonger who would send Slovak soldiers to fight in Ukraine” (BBC). However, it’s important to note that the Slovak president has no constitutional power to send troops to war.

The election has also raised questions about Slovakia’s commitment to the rule of law. Fico’s government has instituted reforms in criminal law and media regulations, leading to uneasiness about the erosion of democratic norms. Critics argue that these reforms aim to protect Fico and his allies from ongoing corruption investigations. Korčok, the pro-Western candidate, expressed disappointment with the election outcome, attributing his loss to fear-mongering tactics employed by Pellegrini’s campaign. He criticized Pellegrini for spreading fear and portraying him as a pro-war politician, saying, “A campaign can be won by making the other a candidate of war… it was fear that decided [the election outcome]” (Reuters). The country’s current president, Zuzana Čaputová, is an avid supporter of Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, yet she did not run for reelection after receiving death threats last year. The country appears to be split between a pro-Western group frightened by Russia’s actions and a group suspicious of the West, as noted by the tight election margins in the final result and the extreme change in presidency from Čaputová to now Pelligrini.

The election of Peter Pellegrini as Slovakia’s new president marks a significant political shift in the country. With his victory, Pellegrini has promised to support the government’s agenda and maintain Slovakia’s place in the EU and NATO. However, his election also raises concerns about the future of Slovakia’s foreign policymaking, especially its relationship with Ukraine and the West. As Slovakia navigates its divided political landscape, the world will see how Pellegrini’s presidency, starting this June, will impact Slovakia’s foreign policy, democratic institutions, and relations with its neighbors and Western allies.



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"Ukraine-sceptic Government Ally Peter Pellegrini Wins Slovakian Presidential Election." The Guardian, 6 Apr. 2024,


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