Slovakia Presidential Election 2024: What You Need to Know

  • Why does this election matter?

  • Who is expected to win?

  • When will we learn the result?

  • Where can I find more information?

Why does this election matter?

The Slovak presidency is a largely ceremonial post, but the election has been closely watched as a test of strength between political forces that want the polarized Central European country to follow Hungary in embracing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and those that want to keep the country aligned with the West.

In a first round of voting on Saturday, two candidates on opposing sides — Ivan Korcok, a veteran diplomat hostile to the Kremlin, and Peter Pellegrini, a Russia-friendly politician allied with Slovakia’s populist prime minister — finished ahead of seven other candidates. But neither won the majority needed to avoid a runoff, according to results announced early Sunday.

The two men will face each other in a second round on April 6.

The race started with 11 candidates, several of them belligerent nationalists who favor close relations with Russia. Two dropped out before the vote on Saturday.

The departing president, Zuzana Caputova, a stalwart supporter of Ukraine, used her limited powers and the bully pulpit to try to block Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia from taking the country on the same path as Hungary. Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary has tilted away from NATO toward Moscow, gained a tight grip on the news media and limited the independence of the judiciary.

With most ballots counted, Mr. Korcok, a former ambassador to the United States and an ally of Ms. Caputova, had 42 percent of the vote, compared with 37 percent for Mr. Pellegrini.

Mr. Korcok’s strong result exceeded what pre-election opinion polls had predicted and delivered a blow to Mr. Fico. The prime minister was hoping for a resounding win by Mr. Pellegrini, who shares his skepticism of supporting Ukraine.

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