Slovaks will elect a new president on 23 March, with a second round of the direct election of the head of state to take place two weeks later if required, announced Parliament Speaker Peter Pellegrini yesterday. As speaker, Pellegrini legally sets the election date, but is himself considering a presidential bid, and is currently leading opinion polls.
He confirmed that if the board of his party, Hlas-SD, approved his presidential candidacy, he would officially announce it next week .
Slovakia’s current president, Zuzana Caputova, will finish her five-year term in mid-June. Caputova announced last year that she would not seek re-election.
According to opinion polls, Pellegrini is the most trusted Slovak politician and would win the presidential election. His biggest rival would be former foreign minister Ivan Korcok, who has already been endorsed by the strongest opposition movement, Progressive Slovakia (PS).
PS, which is assuming that Pellegrini will be a presidential candidate, has already stated that the upcoming election of the Slovak president is important for the country, and argued that the current governing coalition must not occupy all top political positions in the country.
Pellegrini has said that if he runs, he will remain speaker of parliament for the time being. He also does not intend to resign as chairman of Hlas-SD for now.
Another former Slovak foreign minister, Jan Kubis, has already collected the necessary 15,000 signatures to run for president, according to media reports. Presidential candidates can also be nominated by a minimum of 15 members of parliament.
Pellegrini was for a long time a member of Smer-SD, the party of current Prime Minister Robert Fico. Pellegrini and several other senior Smer-SD members left the party in 2020 and founded Hlas-SD, which came third in last year’s early parliamentary elections.
Fico previously said Smer-SD would support Pellegrini if he decided to run for president.
On the other hand, the smallest coalition party, the Slovak National Party (SNS), demanded a stronger position in the government in exchange for supporting Pellegrini, which was rejected by Hlas-SD. SNS chair Andrej Danko said last week that he had started collecting signatures for his own presidential candidacy, which he did not confirm at the time.
To be elected in the first round of the direct presidential elections, one candidate must win a majority of valid votes of eligible voters, which has never happened before. The winner is therefore decided in the second round, between the two candidates with the highest number of votes in the first round.