Slovakia's attacked prime minister: Who is Robert Fico?

Robert Fico, who was subjected to an assassination attempt on May 15 for an unknown reason and whose life was not yet in danger at the time these lines were written, has been one of the decisive figures of the political world in his country since the 1990s when the eastern bloc collapsed in the region.

By William James Published on 15 Mayıs 2024 : 22:01.
Slovakia's attacked prime minister: Who is Robert Fico?

Robert Fico, who turned sixty this year, started his career in politics in the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia after graduating from law school. Coming from a worker's family, Robert Fico was under the influence of leftist political movements in those years.

Young Robert, who had the rights of the regime's privileged elite because his father-in-law was the president of the Supreme Court, could easily go to Western countries and establish connections with the world in those years.

After the collapse of the socialist regime, Fico entered parliament at the age of 28 as a member of the SDL (Democratic Left Party), which was formed by the transformation of the former communist party.

Robert Fico (born 15 September 1964) was a Slovak politician. He has served as the Prime Minister of Slovakia since 2023, having previously served in the position from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2018. He founded the Direction – Social Democracy (Smer–SD) party in 1999 and has led that party since its foundation. Fico holds a record as the longest-serving prime minister in the country's history, having served for a total of over 10 years. First elected to Parliament in 1992, whilst within Czechoslovakia, he was later appointed to the Council of Europe. Following his party's victory in the 2006 parliamentary election, he formed his first Cabinet. His political positions have been described as populist.

A brilliant politician and a good orator, Robert Fico was the leading candidate for party chairman within the SDL at the age of 31. However, he withdrew his candidacy at the last moment. Later, the allegation that Fico was "blackmailed because of an objectionable photo" became the most important gossip of politics in Slovakia for years.

Fico's party was the second-largest party in the broad coalition formed in 1998. However, Fico was not given a task in the coalition.

Robert Fico, who aspired to be the Chief Public Prosecutor, lost this position because he was underage. At that time, the age limit to become a chief prosecutor in Slovakia was 35. Fico was only 34 years old.

In 1999, Robert Fico broke ties with the left-wing party and founded his own party, which he called SMER (Direction), and after seven years of political work, he came to power in 2006 with approximately one-third of the votes.

Fico was accused of being too progressive and left-wing by the right-wing conservative politicians, and of being right-wing by the left-wing party, and he found his own party close to the social democrats; He left an indelible mark on people's minds with the following sentence he used to describe his party in the elections:

“It doesn't matter whether the cat is white or black. The important thing is to catch the mouse. And we will catch the mouse, save Slovakia from its problems, and bring it back to its feet.”

Robert Fico's "3. The "road" policy was successful. He had significant support from Slovak voters. And the fact that he put the principle of being against the Hungarian minority in the country and neighboring Hungary at the center of his politics also played a role in this success.

After 2006, during his years in power, Robert Fico was criticized for the restriction of democratic rights, especially the strengthening of corruption, and the influence of the mafia and underground organizations reaching the judiciary, even though the country was experiencing a period of economic strengthening.

The turning point in this process was a political assassination in 2018. In the spring of that year, investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, who was preparing a dossier of news on the relations between the courts and mafia organizations, was assassinated along with his fiancée, causing large groups of people to take to the streets against the government.

The press, which followed the assassination, revealed those responsible step by step.

The connections, responsibility, and negligence of police chiefs, judges, and civil servants escalated to the government level.

In the end, Prime Minister Robert Fico had to resign to reduce the rising reaction and leave the premiership to his party's vice president, Peter Pellegrini.

He knew that his party would lose power in the elections. He resigned as prime minister in time to avoid wearing himself out and to keep his career clean.

This tactic was perhaps the guarantee of his success in 2023. In last year's elections, Fico managed to gain public support again and came to power.

Perhaps the most important change in his politics during the years he was in opposition after 2018 was that he moved closer to the line of Viktor Orban, whom he had strongly opposed in previous periods, and managed to gain the support of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia.

One of the three most important politicians of independent Slovakia

Since Slovakia gained independence, there have been three very important politicians who have shaped the destiny of the country. These are Vladimir Meciar, Mikulas Dzurinda, and Robert Fico respectively.

Of these three politicians, Fico was the one who managed to stay in power the longest and had the greatest support in the parliament. However, commentators agree that Fico's achievements have not been able to match the other two politicians.

Meciar went down in the country's history with his political maneuvers, which divided Czechoslovakia and declared the independence of Slovakia, despite the majority being against it.

Dzurinda, on the other hand, ensured his country's participation in NATO and the European Union (EU). He laid the foundations for the strong development of Slovakia with his reforms in economic life.

The most important step Fico took for his country was to include Slovakia in the eurozone.

The politician, who was once strongly pro-EU in foreign policy, has in the last few years moved closer to the line of Viktor Orban, the leader of neighboring Hungary, whom he used to oppose. He attracted attention with his criticisms of Brussels and his policy favoring Russia, although he was not openly on its side in the Ukraine-Russia war.

The biggest complaint against him was the claim that the SMER party handed over the country to the giant corruption network of the elite and oligarchy. He was criticized on the grounds that corruption, bribery, and nepotism, which surrounded society like an octopus, from the justice mechanism to police chiefs, from politicians to high-level bureaucrats, were implemented during his reign.

Who and why committed the assassination of Robert Fico may never be revealed. Even if some evidence is found, the truth may never be revealed.

Robert Fico, who was once a communist, then a democratic leftist, then a social democrat, then a third passenger, then a nationalist, and accused of creating a society full of corruption; During his political life, he made many enemies as well as his loved ones.