Slovakia opens polling stations for EU elections in shadow of Prime Minister’s assassination attempt

Robert Fico

8th June 2024 – (Bratislava) Slovakia began its EU-wide elections on Saturday, with the vote taking place in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Robert Fico. The attack, which occurred on 15th May, has sent shockwaves across the EU and has raised concerns about the rise of violence in the bloc.

The election in Slovakia marks the halfway point of the four-day voting period across the EU, with most countries, including Germany and France, set to hold their votes on Sunday. However, Italy, the EU’s third-largest economy, will begin voting later on Saturday, with its results likely to have a significant impact on the future of the bloc.

In the wake of the assassination attempt, support for Fico’s left-wing populist Smer-SD party has surged, with the party now leading voter-intention surveys. Despite this, historically, Slovakia has had a low turnout in EU elections, with just 22 per cent of voters casting ballots in the last election in 2019.

The attention will now shift to Italy’s vote, where Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is hoping for a strong showing from her party, which could strengthen her hand as a key EU powerbroker. Polls suggest that her Brothers of Italy could come out on top with 27 per cent of the vote, reflecting a broader surge of gains for far-right groups across the EU.

The EU Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, has condemned the “despicable act” against Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who was hit by a man in a Copenhagen square late on Friday. The incident has raised concerns about the rise of violence in the bloc, with the EU elections taking place against a backdrop of increasing tensions and polarization.