Pellegrini suggests he might resign, Fico is nowhere in sight

Regional leaders suggest the Košice call is an individual initiative of a former MEP.

PM Peter Pellegrini and Smer's chairman Robert FicoPM Peter Pellegrini and Smer's chairman Robert Fico (Source: František Iván, TASR)

Seven regional chairmen of the ruling Smer deny that Smer is facing an internal revolt. PM Pellegrini, however, suggested it might even end in his resignation from the top government post.

The ruling party is going through an unprecedented situation after some of its members and district leaders in eastern Slovakia signed a letter calling on its chairman Robert Fico to step down.

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Read also: Revolution within Smer? Eastern-Slovak organisations call on Fico to resign Read more 

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, whom the letter signatories want as a replacement of Fico as the chair of the party, admitted Smer has a decisive time ahead.

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"It will determine who will be where and if anyone will be anywhere at all," PM Peter Pellegrini told journalists ahead of the cabinet’s session on Wednesday, May 29.

With the parliamentary election ahead, I will do my utmost for Smer to win, but it will require a thorough reform, Pellegrini said. He also suggested that if “it doesn’t work out”, he might step down as prime minister.

Robert Fico, his predecessor who was forced to step down following the For a Decent Slovakia protests, has not been seen in public since the letter was published. Sme reported he was abroad.

Beňová was critical immediately after election

Criticism came from the leader of the candidate list immediately after the vote. The party scored second with 15.72 percent support and also lost one mandate from the previous term, sending only three MEPs to the European Parliament.

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The 2019 EP election was the first partisan election since 2006 that Smer did not win, and the first that saw its support drop significantly below 20 percent.

Monika Beňová, an MEP and number one on Smer’s candidate list, admitted in an interview for the Sme daily the day after the vote that the elections should be an impulse for a fundamental change within Smer.

“Those people who have the party in their hands should realise it,” she said, adding that they need to make a decision. She also noted that she is not the only one in Smer who has this opinion.

Smolková's doing?

Statements that various Smer members have made for the media on Wednesday suggest that former MEP Monika Smolková is behind the initiative. Smolkova has been critical of Smer's leadership after she did not appear on the party's candidate list for the European Parliament.

Former interior minister Robert Kaliňák crossed off her name from the list of candidates, Smolková claimed. She had publicly criticised Kaliňák in 2016 when the scandals linked to controversial businessman Ladislav Bašternák surfaced.

She went on to claim, in early April 2019, that Smer should give more of the floor to the younger generation.

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