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Robert Fico

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Robert Fico

Robert Fico
Prime Minister of Slovakia
Assumed office
4 April 2012
President Ivan Gašparovič
Andrej Kiska
Preceded by Iveta Radičová
In office
4 July 2006 – 8 July 2010
President Ivan Gašparovič
Preceded by Mikuláš Dzurinda
Succeeded by Iveta Radičová
Personal details
Born (1964-09-15) 15 September 1964
Topoľčany, Czechoslovakia
(now Slovakia)
Political party Communist Party
Party of the Democratic Left
Direction-Social Democracy (1999–present)
Spouse(s) Svetlana Svobodová
Children Michal Fico
Alma mater Comenius University

Robert Fico (Slovak pronunciation: ; born 15 September 1964) is a Slovak politician who has been Prime Minister of Slovakia since 4 April 2012; previously he was Prime Minister from 4 July 2006 to 8 July 2010. He has been the leader of the Direction – Social Democracy (SMER-SD) party since 1999. First elected to Parliament in 1992 (whilst within Czechoslovakia), he was later appointed to the Council of Europe. Following his party's victory in the 2006 parliamentary election, he formed the first Fico Cabinet.

While later in opposition, Fico again sat as a member of parliament, effectively as leader of the opposition. Following a motion of confidence against the Iveta Radičová cabinet, Fico was re-appointed as Prime Minister after leading SMER-SD to a landslide election victory in the 2012 parliamentary election, winning 83 seats and forming a government with an absolute majority in Parliament, the first such since 1989.[1]

In 2013, Fico officially declared his candidacy for the 2014 presidential election, but he lost to Andrej Kiska in the second round of voting on 29 March 2014.


  • Early life 1
    • Education 1.1
  • Early political career 2
  • Prime Minister 3
    • Government coalition controversy 3.1
    • 2010 parliamentary election 3.2
    • 2012 parliamentary election 3.3
  • 2014 presidential election 4
  • Domestic policy 5
    • Labour policies 5.1
    • Finance 5.2
  • Foreign policy 6
    • European Union 6.1
    • Russia 6.2
    • Hungary 6.3
    • United States 6.4
  • Relationship with the media 7
  • Personal life 8
    • Religion 8.1
    • Alleged extramarital affair 8.2
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Fico was born in 15 September 1964, in the town of Topoľčany in the southwestern Nitra Region. His father Ľudovit Fico was a forklift operator and his mother Emilie Ficová worked in a shoe store. He has two siblings, a brother Ladislav who is a construction entrepreneur and a fourteen years younger sister Lucia Chabadová, who is a prosecutor.[2][3] He grew up and lived with his family in the village of Hrusovany, until the age of six, when they moved to the nearby town of Topolcany.


Fico has described his childhood ambitions as wanting either to become a politician, sports reporter or an archeologist.[4] After completing elementary school, he enrolled in the local Upper Secondary School (Slovak: Gymnazium) of Topolcany, graduating in the summer of 1982. Later the same year he enrolled in the Law Faculty of the Comenius University in Bratislava, in what was then Czechoslovakia. His teachers were impressed with him, and one of his teachers from university, the future prime minister Jozef Moravcik, described him as "ambitious, very confident and very involved in discussions". He graduated as juris doctor in 1986 specializing in criminal law.

After graduating from university, he completed his mandatory military service as an assistant military investigator, stationed in the (now-Czech) town of Janovice between 1986 and 1987. He later worked for the Institute of State and Law of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, as well as with the Justice Ministry until 1992.[1] During this period he wrote and completed his PhD degree, with a thesis on "The death penalty in Czechoslovakia". In 2002 he completed his postgraduate study, earning him the title of associate professor.[5]

Early political career

Fico joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1987, having applied in 1984. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, and the collapse of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, Fico joined the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), a successor of the Communist Party of Slovakia. He was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1992. From 1994 to 2000 Fico represented Slovakia as its legal counsel at the European Court of Human Rights but lost all 14 cases which he handled.[6] In 1998 he was elected deputy chairman of the party. Later the same year, Fico ran for the post of general prosecutor, but his party endorsed another candidate instead, arguing Fico was too young.[7]

In the 1998 elections that saw the fall of the government of Vladimír Mečiar, Fico received the biggest number of preferential votes among his party colleagues. A year later, when support for the SDL dropped below the threshold required to get into parliament, he left the party, saying he was disappointed with the way the government worked.[7] Fico acted as an independent MP until the 2002 elections.

As early as in the autumn of 1998, a four-person group consisting of Fico, his associate Frantisek Határ, political strategist Fedor Flasik, and media executive Monika Flašíková-Beňová had begun to discuss and lay plans for launching a new political party on the left. These plans were driven by the falling popularity of the existing parties, and the rising popularity of Fico.[4][8]

Almost immediately after leaving SDĽ, the group founded Direction – Social Democracy (SMER), which Fico first labelled a party of the third way, with himself as leader. Fico established himself as an opposition politician criticizing the unpopular reforms of the right-wing government of Mikuláš Dzurinda.[7] In order to keep SMER from repeating the fate of his previous party, Fico introduced a strict set of regulations for his new party, called the "clean hands" policy. The rules stipulated that no one with ties from the previous communist regime or people who had background with other political parties was allowed to hold party office. This created a new generation of politicians uninvolved in previous corruption scandals; among them was Flaskova-Benová, Robert Kalinak and Pavol Paška.[4] Another rule was that all party chapters on the regional and local levels were to be 100% financially self-sufficient, and all financial donations were to be made public to the media.[8]

Between 2002 and 2006 Smer was the main opposition party in the Slovak parliament. In 2004, it merged with nearly all the leftist parties active on the Slovak political scene, including its parent party SDĽ, becoming the dominant single political party in Slovakia.[7]

Prime Minister

Government coalition controversy

In the elections in 2006 SMER won with 29.1% of the votes and formed a coalition government with Vladimír Mečiar's People's Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and Ján Slota's Slovak National Party (SNS). Slota has been known for making anti-Roma and anti-Hungarian comments,[9] including a drunken public speech in which he threatened to "get in tanks and level Budapest to the ground".[10][11]

One reaction to the coalition came from the EU-wide Party of European Socialists (PES), who suspended SMER's application to join the PES. In late February 2008 however the Assembly of PES conditionally reinstated the application after both SMER and SNS signed a letter committing themselves to respect minority rights.[12][13]

Fico has never publicly condemned Slota's remarks and speeches, and government-level relations between Slovakia and Hungary have deteriorated. Several meetings between the two countries' prime ministers were abruptly cancelled, and those few that did take place resulted in little improvement of relations.[14]

2010 parliamentary election

Before the 2010 elections, Fico's party was in a relatively strong position according to several polls. However just before the election a political scandal broke out, described as one of the gravest in the country's 17-year history.[15] A voice recording surfaced in which a voice strongly resembling that of Fico[16] claims that he raised several million euros in undeclared funds for the 2002 election as well as calling for a "parallel financial structure" to be created for the financing of Smer's election campaign. Slovak media sources such as

Political offices
Preceded by
Mikuláš Dzurinda
Prime Minister of Slovakia
Succeeded by
Iveta Radičová
Preceded by
Iveta Radičová
Prime Minister of Slovakia
  • The Fico Threat, by Martin M. Simecka (March 2009 essay)
  • Fico profile
  • "Slovakia's election: Slovakia turns left". The Economist. 11 March 2012. 

External links

  1. ^ a b Terenzani-Stankova, Michaela. "Who is Robert Fico?". Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Dobrý katolík alebo dobrý komunista? Pozrite si prihlášku Roberta Fica do KSČ". Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Premiérovu mladšiu sestru nasadil štát proti mafii". (in Slovak). 24 September 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Nicholson, Tom. "Who's afraid of Róbert Fico?". Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Prime Minister". Robert Fico. Government of the Slovak Republic. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "European Court of Human Rights: Annual surveys of activity" (PDF). Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "PRESIDENTIAL VOTE: Profiles of the candidates - 1st part". Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Finding Fico". Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Lesná, Ľuba (13 October 2008). "SNS boss crosses another line". Slovak Spectator. 
  10. ^ "Slota lets rip, again". Slovak Spectator. 16 June 2008. 
  11. ^ "Why is Slovakia not in NATO? Ján Slota explains". Slovak Spectator. 13 February 2008. 
  12. ^ Vilikovská, Zuzana (3 September 2008). "Slota ridicules Hungarians during PMs' meeting". Slovak Spectator. 
  13. ^ Vilikovská, Zuzana (16 October 2008). "SMK taking Slota to court over anti-Hungarian statements". Slovak Spectator. 
  14. ^ Lesná, Ľuba (15 December 2008). "Slovak–Hungarian relations thawing slower than hoped". Slovak Spectator. 
  15. ^ a b c "Slovak PM reeling from bombshell on eve of elections". 11 June 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Beata Balogová. "Daily publishes a recording resembling Fico's voice". Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "Vote 2010: Fico accepts election defeat, returns mandate". Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Fico throws his hat into presidential ring". slovakspectator. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  19. ^ Minarechová, Radka (10 January 2014). "15 candidates to run for president". Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Political newcomer Kiska takes wide lead in Slovak presidential election", Reuters website, accessed 30.3.2014
  21. ^ "OECD satisfied with Slovakia's economic performance". Slovak Spectator. 19 March 2008. 
  22. ^ Liptakova, Jana. "Revamped Labour Code gets mixed reception". Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  23. ^ "Government approves limiting the duration of work on agreement". 27 February 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  24. ^ a b "Slovakia gives in to truckers' demands". Financial Times. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "Slovakia will face arbitration for health insurance profit ban". Slovak Spectator. 17 July 2008. 
  26. ^ "Fico attacks retail chains over rising prices". Institute of Economic and Social Studies. 22 July 2007. 
  27. ^ "Fico threatens nationalisation to stop energy increases". Slovak Spectator. 18 August 2008. 
  28. ^ "Slovak PM threatens to expropriate utilities-paper".  
  29. ^ "Euro-socialists suspend Fico's Smer party". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  30. ^ "Fico giving new face to Slovak foreign policy". Slovak Spectator. 22 January 2007. 
  31. ^ Slovakia: Declaration violates basic international law, B92, 2008-02-25
  32. ^ Villikovska, Zuzana. "PM calls Kosovo independence a ‘major mistake’". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  33. ^ Terenzani-Stankova, Michaela. "Ukraine: a challenge for Slovakia". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  34. ^ a b Lesna, Luba. "Searching for the right tone with Russia Major Discussions On Security Are Reserved For Superpowers". (in Slovak). Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  35. ^ "Russland übergibt Slowakei modernisierte MiG-29 nach Nato-Standards | Wirtschaft | RIA Novosti". 29 February 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  36. ^ "Slovak Prime Minister Knows Who Provoked this War in the Caucasus". Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  37. ^ "Slovakia rejects Crimea referendum". Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  38. ^ "Fico still critical of sanctions". Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  39. ^ "Kubiš tries to calm Hungarian worries". 28 August 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  40. ^ "Anti-Hungarian displays continue". 28 August 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  41. ^ Lesna, Luba. "Slovak-Hungarian tensions heat up". (in Slovak). Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  42. ^ Lesna, Luba. "Fico’s Hungarian warning". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  43. ^ "U.S. missile defence in Europe angers Russia". CBC. 5 March 2007. 
  44. ^ "Obama meets Fico in White House". 23 November 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  45. ^ "The Media's Role in Slovakia". Association of European Journalists. 25 December 2008. 
  46. ^ """Fico: Journalists are "idiots. The Slovak Spectator. 7 November 2008. 
  47. ^ "The Muzzle Law: Prison for journalists". 23 February 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  48. ^ 31. decembra 2009  7:02 (11 September 2001). "Novinárska hyena kačice loviť nemusí". Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  49. ^ Balogová, Beata. "Fico drops cartoon lawsuit". Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  50. ^ Terenzani-Stankova, Michaela (10 March 2014). "Fico's competitors agree to unite in second round". Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  51. ^ a b Terenzani, Michaela. "Confusion arises over Fico’s religious background". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  52. ^ "Fico slams media over coverage". The Slovak Spectator. 14 April 2008. 
  53. ^ "Fico sues 7 Plus publisher". Slovak Spectator. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  54. ^ a b "Manželky prezidentských kandidátov: Ktorá bude prvou dámou?". Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  55. ^ Burcik, Matus (12 July 2011). "Pre Boreca pracuje Ficova manželka". (in Slovak). Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  56. ^ Mihailikova, Maria (14 August 2009). "Ficovu manželku štát platí za skúmanie paragrafov". (in Slovak). Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  57. ^ Devanova, Andrea. "» Spoločnosť a politika Budúci premiér - sólový hráč s fotografickou pamäťou" (in Slovak). Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  58. ^ Petkova, Zuzana (14 February 2011). "Právo stále berie aj bez prijímačiek". (in Slovak). Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  59. ^ a b Benediktovičová, Mária. "Fico v prihláške do KSČ: Som prísny ateista". SME (in Slovak). Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  60. ^ Balogová, Beáta (13 January 2014). "The president's speech". Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  61. ^ Blaško, Peter (12 March 2014). "Sledovali sme online: Do Kisku sa pustil Fico aj Kňažko. Pre scientológiu". Hospodárske noviny (in Slovak). Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  62. ^ "Robo, kedy si stratil vieru v Boha? Premiér Fico zatĺka, či je veriaci, alebo nie". (in Slovak). Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  63. ^ "Smeráčka Janka z gay baru: V parlamente parkovala na výnimku". Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  64. ^ "Fico a mladá tajomníčka Janka: Ich vzťah odhalil Nový Čas!". 30 August 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  65. ^ Cuprik, Roman. "Is 'kissing story' relevant for public?". Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  66. ^ Bolech, Daniela. "Rodina Ficovej tajomníčky Halászovej: Sestra aj macocha robia pre štát". Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  67. ^ "Mlčal ako hrob: Fico sa k fotke s Halászovou priamo nevyjadril". Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  68. ^ "PM Fico Caught in Passionate Embrace with Secretary". Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  69. ^ "Prvé foto Ficovej ženy od zverejnenia chúlostivých záberov: Prestala Svetlana nosiť obrúčku?". Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  70. ^ Minarechova, Radka (11 October 2013). "Fico dismisses calls to explain dinner". Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  71. ^ "Fico sues 7 Plus publishing house". Slovak Spectator. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 


In August 2013, Fico was photographed while embracing and kissing his now-secretary Halászová, after taking her for a private dinner at a chateau in Čereňany, 160 kilometres from Bratislava.[67] The photos created another round of speculation about the true nature of their relationship as well as whether or not he had used public funds to pay for the dinner.[68][69][70] A month later, the tabloid 7 Plus reported that Fico and Halászová had been photographed together in a luxury restaurant while vacationing together in the Croatian town of Opatija. In response to this latest story, Fico filed a defamation lawsuit against Plus 7 magazine.[71]

In August 2010, Fico was photographed around midnight in a gay bar in down town Bratislava together with a woman, who was later revealed to be 25-year-old Jana Halászová, a secretary at the Smer-SD party headquarters. It was later revealed that Halászová had been given extensive privileges, including her own parking space in the Parliament car park, without being a member.[63][64] Halászová had also bought a luxurious car worth around €30,000 and bought a new flat without a mortgage in August 2012 in a neighbourhood where a one-room flat costs approximately €100,000, despite being a secretary without education.[65] In addition, both her sister and step-mother had recently been given jobs within various ministries.[66]

Alleged extramarital affair

During televised debate he refused to answer television presenter's question, whether he is a Christian (Catholic) or an Atheist, and told he consider it a private matter.[61] Regarding his baptism, holy communion and confirmation, Fico stated that he was baptised as an infant and the holy communion with the confirmation followed after, as it was with every child who grew up in the village.[62]

In a promotional video during presidential election campaign in 2014, Fico said he grew up in a Roman Catholic family and that he considers himself a catholic. He discussed his baptism, holy communion, confirmation and how the catholic faith had impacted his childhood.[51] He stated "Perhaps if I am to do my profile in relation to the Catholic Church, I would end up better off than any PM of the KDH (the Christian Democratic Movement)". He also described growing up with his grandfather, a man who "very strictly respected the rules of standard Christian life" and it profoundly impacted him.[60] However, historian and former researcher of Nation's Memory Institute Patrik Dubovský consider it being "manipulative with public", because "confirmation was in direct conflict with Communist Party membership, which political programme was based on atheism". As Dubovský stated, especially after Charta 77 incident religiously active people were severely persecuted.[59]

Fico has rarely discussed in public his religious life. In his application to join the Communist Party in 1984, Fico stated that he was "strictly atheistic", as was required in order to be accepted. According to the testimonial from college added to the application, he had "scientific Marxist-Leninist worldview" and "no problems with religion matters".[59]


Fico is married to Svetlana Ficová (née Svobodová), a lawyer and associate professor from Zilina.[54][55][56] They were classmates while both were studying law at the Comenius University in Bratislava, and they married in 1988.[54][57] They have one son together, Michal, who is currently enrolled at the University of Economics in Bratislava.[58] In addition to his native Slovak, Fico speaks fluent Czech, English and Russian.[5]

Personal life

In July 2012 Fico declared "Eternal Peace" between him and the Slovak press. He also stated his desire to change his attitude towards the media, saying “I think it is enough” and that he does not plan any further lawsuits against media outlets except in extraordinary situations. Fico further said: "You have to spend an incredible amount of energy on it [lawsuits], it means several years of conflict, one conflict takes usually five or six years [to resolve],” adding that lawsuits involve “legal fees, paying a lawyer, everything around that".[53]

Fico, on at least one occasion, issued an apology to a foreign politician whose visit to Slovakia was largely ignored by the media. When Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov visited in April 2008, most media did not consider the visit of the virtually unknown Zubkov substantially newsworthy. To make matters worse, during the press conference the journalists were not allowed to ask any questions. Subsequently Fico sent Zubkov a letter of apology in which he apologized for the Slovak media's lack of interest in his visit.[52]

Fico has upheld a long-running boycott of one of the major Slovak daily newspapers, SME. According to Fico, the boycott will last until it apologises for what he calls lies they published about him in the past, going as far as boycotting the main presidential debate prior to the 2014 presidential election, as it was co-hosted by SME.[50] As of March 2014 the boycott is still in place.[51]

During his press conferences he often verbally attacks, lectures and taunts the present journalists, often accusing them of bias and attacks on his government. On several occasions he has openly and on record used profanities against specific journalists ("idiots", "pricks").[45][46] After characterising journalists as "hyenas",[47] the broadsheet Pravda adopted a hyena from Bratislava Zoo.[48] In 2009, Fico repeatedly described the Slovak press as a “new opposition force” that was biased and was harming national and state interests. Fico also accused the press of failing to “stand behind the common people”.[49]

Relationship with the media

Fico was a vocal opponent of the one-time planned construction of new U.S. anti-ballistic missile and radar systems in military bases in neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland[43] and one of his first steps upon taking office was a military pullout from Iraq. In November 2013, Fico visited the U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington D.C, where they spoke about the US-Slovak partnership, which is “based on shared democratic values and principles”, after which he affirmed the strategic partnership between the two countries.[44]

United States

In May 2008, Fico labelled Hungary a potential threat during a speech commemorating the 161st anniversary of the day that Slovaks demanded national equality with other nations within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Fico used the anniversary to openly criticise the political situation in Hungary and warn about the influence it might have on Slovakia. Especially he warned against the Hungarian right-wing politician Viktor Orbán, and his party Fidesz, which he called an "extreme nationalist party".[42]

Tension between Slovakia and Hungary, unstable from the past, was inflamed in 2006 following the parliamentary election and Fico's decision to include nationalist Ján Slota and his Slovak National Party into his governing coalition. Slota was known for his fierce anti-Hungarian rhetoric, including that "Hungarians are a tumor on the Slovak nation that needs to be immediately removed."[39] In the wake of the election several incidents occurred which further inflamed nationalist sentiment on both sides, including the alleged beating of a Hungarian woman in South Slovakia. Fico reacted by condemning the extremism, but rebuked the Hungarian government by declaring "The Slovak government doesn’t need to be called on to strike against extremism".[40] The row heated up again in September 2007, when Ficos government introduced a law making the Benes decrees inviolable, this was in response to demands from ethnic Hungarian politicians that compensations should be made to persons affected by the decrees.[41]


[38] in 2014, Fico denounced them as "senseless", and a "threat to the Slovak economy".EU sanctions against Russia Regarding the [37] which incorporated Crimea into Russia. Fico himself, however, remained silent on the issue.Crimean referendum Under his premiership, the Slovak foreign ministry rejected the [36] After coming to power in 2006 he declared that Slovakia’s relations with Russia would improve after eight years of “neglect”. Fico referred to "

Compensating his lack of close political allies within the EU (the head of the Czech Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek being a notable exception), Fico has been actively strengthening relations with several non-EU countries such as Serbia and Russia, breaking with a trend since the fall of communism where Slovakia aligned itself towards NATO and the West.[34]


Responding to the 2013 Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, Fico declared that "EU is no religious obligation" as well as that the EU was “so in love with itself” that it is convinced there is no better alternative to it in the world. He subsequently condemned the use of violence, but acknowledged that it was an internal affair in Ukraine.[33]

In foreign relations with Europe, Fico's government has faced controversies due to their affiliation with internationally isolated parties of Vladimír Mečiar and Jan Slota.[29][30] Under his leadership however, Slovakia entered the Eurozone in 2009, and Fico himself in a speech to the Oxford Union praised Slovakia's entry into the European Union as a "success story". Fico opposed the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, which he called a "major mistake", as a result of which Slovakia has not recognised Kosovo as a sovereign state.[31][32]

European Union

Robert Fico with Mirko Cvetković during the state visit to Serbia

Foreign policy

In August 2008, Fico threatened the foreign shareholders of a local gas distributor SPP, the French Gaz de France and the German E.ON, with nationalization and seizure of their ownership shares in a dispute over retail gas prices.[27][28]

One of few modifications Fico's government did implement was a slight modification to the unusual flat tax system introduced by the previous government in a way that slightly decreased or eradicated a tax-free part of income for higher income earners. A lower value added tax was imposed on medications and books, though in spite of his election promises Fico failed to extend this onto a wider group of products such as groceries. Among the measures were controversial legislative changes which effectively banned private health insurance companies from generating profit. As a result Slovakia is being sued by several foreign shareholders of local health insurers through international arbitrations.[25] In 2007, Fico unsuccessfully tried to regulate retail food prices, an unprecedented effort in a generally free market European Union.[26]


In 2010, Fico faced large-scale protests and a blockade of major cities by truckers upset about badly implemented tolls on the highways. Truckers demanded that fuel prices be lowered to compensate for the tolls.[24] Fico initially refused to speak with representatives of the truckers, saying he would not "be blackmailed", but a few days later capitulated. The cuts given to truckers will amount to about €100,000,000.[24]

At the start of his second term as prime minister in 2012, Fico introduced a new "Labour Code", which granted entitlement to a lay-off notice period as well as severance pay, reduced overtime, making layoffs more expensive for employers, shorter temporary work contracts and more power for trade unions. In addition, it curbed the ‘chaining’ of fixed-term employment contracts, whereby currently it is possible to extend a fixed-term employment contract three times over three years.[22] The Code was revised in 2014 when it introduced severe restrictions of the work on agreement performed outside regular employment. Under the latest revision, employers will be able to conclude agreements with employees for 12 months only.[23]

The most successful reforms Fico introduced were to establish some reasonable standards in how many times employees may be kept on as temporary workers instead of being given permanent contracts. Under the one-sided, pro-employer legislation of the Mikulas Dzurinda government, an employer could (and many did) keep new staff as temps and create a two-tier workforce. Slovakia's labor policies are generally in tune with most other EU states.

Labour policies

A large part of Fico's election victory in 2006 was attributed to his loud criticism of the previous right-wing government's economic, tax, social, pension and legislative reforms. The reforms were generally perceived as very positive and successful by such international bodies as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the OECD,[21] however they negatively affected certain segments of the population, particularly low wage earners, the unemployed, and welfare and other social assistance recipients. While in opposition, and primarily during the election campaign, Fico vowed to reverse and cancel the majority of these reforms, however, upon taking office he adopted a more cautious approach. Slovakia was starting to fulfill the Maastricht criteria required for Euro currency adoption, which it completed on 1 January 2009.

Robert Fico visiting Mochovce Nuclear Power Plant

Domestic policy

However, Fico was defeated by the independent candidate Andrej Kiska by a wide margin (approximately 59% – 41%) in the second round of voting on 29 March 2014.[20]

On 18 December 2013, Fico officially announced his candidature for the upcoming presidential election, in 2014.[18] “I understand my candidacy as a service to Slovakia,” Fico said on December 18. He argued that he did not see his candidacy as an adventure, an escape or an attempt to culminate his political career. His campaign ran under the motto “Ready for Slovakia”.[7] On 9 January 2014, the Slovak Parliament, under Speaker Pavol Paška, officially approved the candidatures of Fico and 14 other candidates.[19]

2014 presidential election

Following the fall of the government that replaced his, Fico's Smer-SD returned to power being the first party since the breakup of Czechoslovakia to win an absolute majority of seats. Fico initially sought to form a national unity government with SDKU or KDH, but when this failed he formed the first one-party government in Slovakia since 1993.

2012 parliamentary election

Fico also attacked the media sources that published information about the recording, saying "Should I go over there and give you a smack because you are scoundrels? What you are doing is unheard of. You are masturbating on the prime minister every day."[15] Fico has since been questioned on the matter, SME announced. Former Minister of Justice Daniel Lipsic told the press he has "handed the recording to the general attorney office". In the election, Fico's SMER remained the biggest party in Parliament, with 62 seats. However, his coalition partners were decimated, with the HZDS being completely shut out. Unable to find a partner willing to given him the 14 seats he needed to stay in office, Fico resigned. He said he "respects the election result" and expressed his desire to lead a resolute opposition after his narrow loss.[17]


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