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Main focus of Monday, March 12, 2012

Absolute majority for Fico in Slovakia

Robert Fico received almost 45 percent of the vote. (© AP/dapd)

Robert Fico's social democratic Party Smer emerged from Slovakia's early elections with an absolute majority on Saturday, while the ruling conservatives lost two thirds of their electoral base. Fico must put aside his arrogant, populist ways and tackle the rampant corruption in the country, commentators write.

Der Standard - Austria

Ex-populist must act responsibly

In his second term of office the populist Robert Fico must show he is now ready up to the task, writes the left-liberal daily Der Standard: "Whereas Orbán has become embroiled in conflict with the EU, Fico is steering a clearly pro-European course, although the bailout for Greece is anything but popular in his country. ... All in all the topic played almost no role in the election. The apparently gigantic corruption scandal - the dubious network of relations between politics and business that was exposed through wire taps - overshadowed everything else. That didn't harm Fico, although his role too (as former prime minister) is very much in need of investigation. ... The winner takes all - in this case responsibility. And that responsibility is all the larger since for the time being there is no opposition to speak of. The former populist must finally show he's on the road to becoming a statesman." (12/03/2012)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Mafia capitalism results in one-party government

The clear victory of the left-wing populist Robert Fico is reminiscent of the election triumph of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, comments the left-leaning daily taz: "What is driving the voters into the arms of populists like Orbán and Fico in Hungary and Slovakia is the anger at what Václav Havel once callled 'mafia capitalism'. What he was referring to was the scheming of a small clique from politics and business that is systematically undermining, or rather flogging off the state. What remains is the fear that Fico - like Orbán - could exploit this anger to appease the people with populist phrases and play the nationalist card, only to take advantage himself of the 'mafia capitalism' at the same time. Without a developed civil society and without an effective democratic opposition Slovakian democracy will have a hard time." (12/03/2012)

Sme - Slovakia

Fico must learn from first term of office

After Social Democratic opposition leader Robert Fico's landslide victory in the Slovakian elections on Saturday, the liberal daily Sme hopes he has learned from the mistakes of his last term: "The weak result of the incumbent coalition parties and Fico's clear victory gives the winner a high degree of responsibility. Now the key issue is not only whether Fico's party can meet the economic challenges, but also whether it really has adopted social-democratic values. Whether it approaches minorities or Green issues with sufficient openness. And whether, conversely, it adopts a less arrogant, nationalist and confrontational attitude to the media and its critics in general. Fico's party may have received over a million votes, corresponding to roughly a quarter of the adult population. But the others three-quarters didn't vote for it." (12/03/2012)

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

New government less anti-Hungarian

After the clear victory for the social-democratic party Smer in Slovakia, the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet is delighted that designated Prime Minister Fico will rule without the extreme-right Slovak National Party (SNS): "What will Fico's second government bring? The future prime minister has diplomatically labelled his programme pro-European, and he has promised his solidarity with debt-stricken Europe. With the help of the rich he wants to bring the state finances back under control, he rejects privatisation and he favours large state investments. ... In view of his absolute majority the most likely outcome is that Smer will govern alone, even if a coalition can't be ruled out. ... A one-party government is far better than a coalition with Ján Slota, who wanted to send Slovakian tanks to Hungary under the first Fico government. For Hungary in any case it is a source of satisfaction that Slota and his National Party didn't make it back into parliament." (12/03/2012)

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