Slovakia's leftist former Prime Minister Robert Fico beat his progressive rival in a parliamentary election after campaigning to end military aid to Ukraine, but he will need to win over allies to form the next government, nearly complete results showed on Sunday.
With 98% of voting districts reporting in the Saturday election, Fico's SMER-SSD party led with 23.37% of the vote. The liberal Progressive Slovakia (PS) followed with 16.86% and the HLAS (Voice) party, which could become the kingmaker for forming the next government, was third with 15.03%.
Former Fico colleague and leftist HLAS leader Peter Pellegrini kept his options open on future coalitions.
A government led by Fico and his SMER-SSD party would see NATO member Slovakia joining Hungary in challenging the European Union's consensus on support for Ukraine, just as the bloc looks to maintain unity in opposing Russia's invasion.
It would also signal a further shift in the region against political liberalism, which may be reinforced if conservative PiS wins an election in Poland later this month.