ANDREJ Kiska is PM Robert Fico’s most likely competitor in the run-off. The most recent Focus poll even suggests he might be set to win the election. The media typically refer to Kiska as a millionaire and philanthropist. Born in Poprad on February 2, 1963, Kiska has a degree in electro-technical engineering, but he made his career and fortune in the consumer lending business. In 1996-2005 he and his brother founded and ran the hire-purchase companies Triangel and Quatro, the first ones on the market. Kiska sold his shares in the two companies in 2005 to found a charity project, Dobrý Anjel (Good Angel), along with his friend, businessman Igor Brosman. Kiska claims he put Sk30 million (about €1 million) into the project at its start. Before long Dobrý Anjel became very successful.
Kiska was awarded the title Manager of the Year in 2006 and in 2011 he won the Crystal Wing prize for philanthropy.
He decided to run for president in 2012, and left Dobrý Anjel in May 2013. When explaining why he decided to run, he sticks with his charity-related image. He also denies claims that he has used the charity project to build his political career.
Kiska has faced criticism for his past business dealings involving Triangel and Quatro, with his critics likening them to a loan shark operation. Kiska argues that his model indeed created a system of hire-purchase loans with affordable instalments, so “that people were able to buy a television or a car, because not everybody had the available cash to do so”.
He was the first to officially announce his presidential candidacy and his billboards appeared around Slovakia long before the names of his competitors were known. He is running as an independent candidate and has no political background whatsoever.
Kiska has stressed his lack of political involvement as one of his strengths, while his website features the slogan “The First Independent President”.
Interviewing the candidates
THERE are currently 14 candidates in the presidential race scheduled for March 15. Ahead of the official election campaign, The Slovak Spectator requested interviews from the five front runners who top the polls, asking all of them identical questions about their strengths and weaknesses in the race, and their goals for the presidency if they are elected.
The current issue features interviews with candidates Andrej Kiska and Milan Kňažko, both independent. The last edition featured interviews with independent Radoslav Procházka and Pavol Hrušovský, the official candidate of the People’s Platform. Prime Minister Robert Fico, the official candidate of the ruling Smer party, declined the request, citing his busy schedule as the main reason.
Kiska and Procházka (both running as independents) and Hrušovský responded to The Slovak Spectator’s questions via email. Independent candidate Kňažko spoke with The Slovak Spectator over the phone.
3. Mar 2014 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová