Slovakia’s former three-time prime minister Robert Fico will not go to jail after parliament narrowly failed to approve a motion to suspend his immunity from prosecution while he is under investigation on organized crime charges.
Although the current ruling coalition under Prime Minister Eduard Heger has a two-thirds majority in the 150-seat legislature, only 74 MPs voted on Wednesday afternoon in favor of letting a court decide whether Fico should be placed in remand, leaving the motion two votes before being adopted.
The votes of two MPs from the Ordinary People’s Party (OLaNO), whose leader Igor Matovič came out on top in the polls in the 2020 national elections on an anti-corruption platform that targeted Fico and his now Smer (Leadership) party. embarrassing for the government, were particularly embarrassing for the government. . OLaNO’s Romana Tabák did not vote, while Katarína Hatráková abstained.
The special prosecutor’s office, which deals with organized crime cases in Slovakia, asked Parliament on April 22 to lift Fico’s immunity, which every MP enjoys by law, to allow his prosecution. Fico and former Interior Minister Róbert Kaliňák allegedly weaponized confidential tax and police files against political opponents before 2020 as leaders of an organized group involving former senior police and intelligence officers.
Economy Minister Richard Sulík, head of OLaNO’s coalition partner Liberté et Solidarité (SaS), described the failure of the vote as “the biggest political failure of [Matovič’s] career… He was beaten by his own deputies. He will never again be able to talk about the fight against corruption.
Matovič, who himself served as prime minister for two years before giving way to Heger, alternately vilified Fico and lamented in a social media post that “two deputies from our [party] believe parliamentarians are more important than ordinary people…it must have cost this corrupt criminal dearly.
Noting that the 17 deputies of the coalition party We are Family (Sme Rodina) had abstained, Matovič added that “some may have [voted] out of naivety, some out of idiocy, some out of money, and some just wanted to buy insurance in case they faced justice themselves.
Fico, meanwhile, took a sober tone after the vote: “I would like to thank all the MPs who supported me, just as I respect all those who had a different opinion.”