In a somewhat stunning turn of events, political newcomer and philanthropist Andrej Kiska was elected President of Slovakia, defeating the current Prime Minister and the most popular politician in Slovakia, Robert Fico, in quite convincing fashion, obtaining 59.4 percent of the vote to Fico’s 40.6 percent.
The victory marks the first occasion of a Slovak president being elected without any past ties to the Communist Party since Slovakia gained its independence from Czechoslovakia in 1993.
Kiska’s victory is so surprising for two main reasons. First and foremost, Kiska is a greenhorn to the political scene, having held no previous political office at any level. Before winning the bid for presidency on Sunday, Kiska owned two micro-credit companies which managed to capitalize on Slovakia’s transition to the free-market following the fall of communism in Slovakia in 1989.
In 2005, Kiska decided to sell his two credit companies to a Slovak bank and then invested the money to create the number one charity organization in Slovakia, Good Angel – an organization which seeks to help ease the financial burdens for families with terminally ill children.
While Kiska promised reform to a corruption-laden Slovak government, stating, “Traditional politicians do not deal with the real problems of real people, so I decided to run for president in order to try and change that,” perhaps the biggest reason for Kiska’s victory was the societal distrust of his opponent, Robert Fico.
In a 2012 general-election, the people of Slovakia voted overwhelmingly in favor of Fico’s Smer political party, denouncing right-leaning politicians after a 2011 secret-service file leaked, code-named Gorilla, which linked powerful Slovak businessmen with the right wing members of government. The results of said election left Fico and the Smer party with 83 members of the 150 member parliament, instituting one-party rule in Slovakia.
It is for this exact reason than many Slovaks decided to cast their ballot in support of Kiska, citing too much power as the reason for voting against Fico: I voted for Kiska to prevent Fico from winning. Fico is too power-hungry and I don’t want one party to rule,” stated Denisa Angyalova after she cast her ballot on Saturday.
Slovak political analyst Grigorij Meseznikov agreed with the sentiment of the general populace, opining, “This election was a referendum on Fico and his government, and he clearly lost it.”
Kiska will take office on June 15, following the end of Ivan Gasparovic’s second five-year term as President.
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