Fico or Pellegrini? Former prime ministers fight to lead Smer

Pellegrini departure would mean further radicalisation of party, warns analyst.

Peter Pellegrini (left) and Robert Fico (right)Peter Pellegrini (left) and Robert Fico (right) (Source: Sme)

Peter Pellegrini has called on Robert Fico to stand down as leader of the Smer party, in the latest in an increasingly public split between the two former prime ministers over the direction of the country’s largest opposition party.

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Speaking at a press conference on May 26, Pellegrini said: “[Fico] has a final chance to avoid the fate of [former PMs] Vladimír Mečiar and Mikuláš Dzurinda.”

Flanked by former interior minister Denisa Saková, former economy minister Peter Žiga, and deputy chair of the party Richard Raši, he added: “If he does not want to tragically live up to the saying ‘I established the party, I will destroy the party’ he has a unique opportunity today to give hope of a better future for the party by leaving.”

He also said by stepping down as leader, Fico would be helping not just Smer but social democratic politics in Slovakia.

Torn and exhausted

Pellegrini, who replaced Fico as PM during the previous government when the latter was forced out of office following massive public protests after the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak, has already said he wants to run for the leadership of Smer.

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