Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has accused President Andrej Kiska of conspiring against him with liberal US financier George Soros, in an effort to fend off pressure for a government overhaul or an early election. Kiska is meeting with opposition political parties in an effort to solve the political situation on March 7.
The Slovak political situation has become very tense after the assassination of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak, who was investigating alleged links between the Calabrian mafia and the prime minister's office. Kiska has called for major changes to the government to restore public confidence.
On March 5, Fico connected Kiska’s meeting with Soros in 2017 to the president's pressure for government change. Fico asked Kiska to explain to the public what he did on September 20, 2017, in New York, “where Kiska had a meeting without any representative of the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
Fico, a Social Democrat who has expressed a desire for Slovakia to be part of the core of the European Union, has now joined with neighbouring rightwing Eurosceptic populists such as Hungary's Viktor Orban, in using the US billionaire as a scapegoat. “I demand an answer, what was this meeting about with a man of suspicious character?” Fico said.
Kiska has already explained on Facebook that he discussed the plight of the Roma at the meeting. Slovakia has a large Roma minority, which faces poverty and discrimination.
Soros also denied any involvement. A spokesman said: “As far as Mr Soros is mentioned, he didn’t play any role in President Kiska’s latest speech or demonstrations in Slovakia.”
The name of Soros is very popular among disinformation websites in Slovakia as well as in Czechia. Over the weekend, the first websites already began propounding this conspiracy theory. Several articles warned that in Slovakia another Maidan (Ukrainian revolution) is happening.
“Now they [Robert Fico and ruling Smer-SD] are trying, as a textbook case, to change the topic and release different conspiracy balloons, which will for sure get stuck somewhere among his voters,” Michal Novota, a consultant in the sector of political marketing, told Dennik N.
Fico has accused the president and opposition parties of trying to misuse Kuciak's murder for political gain. “I am shocked that president talked 10 days ago about Slovakia as a success story and now he is using the murder for a political fight,” Fico said.
President Kiska reflected on Fico’s remarks on March 6. “Tomorrow, I am starting meetings with political parties and I am ready to take our country out of this crisis. We have to unite and restore the trust of people in the state,” he said during a press briefing. “We have to find a government, which will not polarise our country, but unite it,” Kiska added.
He also rebuffed Fico’s statements about Soros: “We shouldn’t get confused, we shouldn’t get taken away from the main topic. I think that Mr Prime Minister should maintain the remainder of his political dignity and pay attention to what troubles our country the most.”
Fico’s junior coalition partner the liberal Most-Hid has also denounced the words of the PM: "To the Most-Hid party, the words that were voiced at the press conference held by Prime Minister Robert Fico are incomprehensible and unacceptable. Instead of seeking solutions to the developing political situation, the prime minister is seeking a foreign guilty party to blame. The prime minister has chosen a dangerous path from which there might be no return. Therefore, we call on Prime Minister Fico not to make future talks on reconstructing the cabinet impossible with his words," reads the text.
Most-Hid has called for the resignation of Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD), who was already under fire for his contacts with controversial businessmen. Most-Hid will meet on Monday to discuss the crisis and could pull out of the government unless Kalinak is fired, leaving the government without a majority and probably precipitating early elections.
Organisers of a large demonstration in Bratislava on March 2 have called another demonstration for the establishment of a new government on Friday, March 9.
Even the highest leadership of Smer-SD is now talking about Kalinkak's end. The interior minister has been the closest ally of Fico since the party was founded but has now become a liability. The question is whether even that would be enough to preserve the government now.