Fico Wins Slovakia General Election

Posted March 11th, 2012 at 2:50 am (UTC-5)
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Slovakia's former prime minister Robert Fico will return to his old job after his left-wing Smer party trounced its opponents in Saturday's parliamentary election.

With nearly all the votes counted, preliminary results show Smer winning 84 of 150 seats – enough for Mr. Fico to govern on his own if he chooses not to form a coalition.

Fico supporters threw him in the air and danced with him at a wild celebration at party headquarters in Bratislava.

When final official results are in, Smer is expected to finish far ahead of the conservative SDKU party, led by outgoing Prime Minister Iveta Radicova.

Fico, who was Slovak prime minister from 2006 to 2010, campaigned on promises to preserve the welfare system while raising taxes on corporations and the rich.

Saturday's election came two years early. A four-party ruling coalition collapsed in October when one of its junior members refused to back expansion of the eurozone's bailout fund.

The coalition was also involved in a scandal when a secret service wiretap revealed what sounded like a private financial group bribing government politicians.