Robert Fico is the Slovakian prime minister. His position is strong – he leads a government that relies only on his own party SMER-SD for support in the unicameral Slovakian parliament. He’s only been in office for a year and a half, and yet, he’s now announced his candidacy for the presidency (links in Slovak, English). The elections for Slovak President will be held next year and Fico seems like the main contender as he is popular and well-known and there are no opponents on the left side of the spectrum, so he faces little opposition. The field of candidates is also not made up of very prominent party leaders. The reason that it is not is because the presidency is not very powerful, it is mostly symbolical. This makes it all the more puzzling that Fico would have a go at it, since he currently occupies the most powerful position in the country and would be stepping down to a much less important post at a time when he still has two years to go in the Prime Minister’s seat.
Fico announced his candidacy in a meeting attended by many important figures from Slovakian politics, during a yearly ceremony reporting on the achievements of the government. In his speech, Fico stated his view that the president should not be a counter-weight against the government but should be off the same political color. Pravda is reporting that if Fico becomes president, he will be replaced as prime minister by Robert Kaliňak, the current interior minister. In his speech, Fico also mentioned that he wanted to be a ‘patriotic’ president and listed a number of key events in Slovakian history including the Slovakian uprising (1944), the Prague Spring (1968), and independence (1993) – omitting the year 1989.
For more on the issue see Kevin Deegan-Krause’s comments on his pozorblog.