15 May 2024

Slovakian PM shooting: ‘I’ve also faced many threats lately’, says opposition MP

With Slovakia’s prime minister’s life hanging in the balance, his political rivals and supporters have come together to denounce the assassination attempt, calling it an attack on Slovak democracy.

Robert Fico was hit in the stomach after a gunman opened fire during a meeting with supporters in the town of Handlova, just over 100 miles from the capital Bratislava.

We spoke to Vladimíra Marcinková, an opposition MP in the Slovak parliament and vice chair of the Committee for European Affairs. She’s also a candidate in the upcoming European elections.

‘Face many threats’

Vladimíra Marcinková: First of all, good evening and let me wish Prime Minister Robert Fico health and speedy recovery. We are all very concerned about what happened and what we can see. I also face many threats against me and my family lately. It’s very serious that we witness Slovakia being very polarised, very divided.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: At this press conference, they have confirmed that they believe there may have been a political motivation for this attack. And as you say, various politicians like like you are saying that they have received threats, that the temperature of Slovak politics has shot up. What has been driving that?

‘Conspiracies and hoaxes’

Vladimíra Marcinková: Sociologists say that there are two absolutely different groups of people in Slovakia nowadays which are approximately an equal size. For example, 50% of people believe in conspiracies and hoaxes. Here in Slovakia, the topics that divide us are currently the war on Ukraine, the Covid pandemic, vaccination, that was quite heavy on society as well as anywhere else. But here even more the influence of Russia, the role of EU and Western democracies, fear community and question of their rights. And those are basically the topics that divide political dialogue, but also the society in general.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: These are topics that are dividing societies across Europe and the world. And this is an extraordinary development. To what extent do you think the prime minister and his party and his coalition partners have also driven these divisions?

‘Driven by fear’

Vladimíra Marcinková: I think that now is not the time to look for the politicians that have name tags on this mood and on what’s going on in Slovakia. Now is the time to step back for all of the political leaders, all of us, whole society, to step back and try to unite what is divided and try to calm the society because it has been driven by fear lately. We could see during the presidential election, we could see during the parliamentary election, and we can see it even now during the European election, when the fear of war, the fear of getting Slovakia out of the European Union possibly, or any others, extremities that are brought to dialogue, are driving these moods and these fears in society.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: I understand you know what you’re saying, but history suggests that assassination attempts and assassinations feed precisely the kind of conspiracy theories and divisions that you’ve been talking about as rising in Slovakia. So while you say that now is the time to come together, how confident are you that that will happen?

‘Spread of hatred’

Vladimíra Marcinková: I’m not very optimistic about it, even though I wish. I could see these tendencies in all political parties, in the coalition and opposition as well. It’s not happening. We could see right after the assassination attempt that there were spread of hatred among politicians, polarisation of opinions. Really I would say heavy words towards opposition or towards other politicians and that’s something that we should now put aside and we should now really focus on communicating well, in terms of calming the society, because this is heavy and this is difficult for everybody, not only for the supporters of the prime minister, but of Slovakia in general. This has never happened in our democracy and I think it’s very heavy on European Union politics and the situation in the European Union as well.