Slovakia. According to Countryaah.com, Slovakia population in 2020 is estimated at 5,459,653. Prime Minister Robert Fico decided to stand in this year’s presidential election and first looked like a winner in public opinion. But he faced criticism from the government for high unemployment – 13.5% in February – and a series of corruption scandals. Fico’s Social Democratic Party Smer, which has its own majority in Parliament, was also accused of being powerless.
The challenger in the election was the partyless Andrej Kiska, a wealthy entrepreneur who made himself known as a philanthropist. Fico won the first round of elections in March, but lost in a decisive round as Kiska gained close to 60% of the vote against Fico’s just over 40%.
Despite the defeat, Fico remained as prime minister, but falling opinion figures led to government reshuffling. Fico also presented a package of measures of € 250 million to meet the needs of poor Slovakians after years of budgetary tightening. Increased minimum wages and pensions as well as lower gas prices and lower taxes for low incomes were promised.
The election to the European Parliament became a new bottom record for voting in Slovakia. Only 13% of voters participated. Fico’s party Smer became the largest with a quarter of the vote and four of Slovakia’s 13 seats.
Slovakia was affected by the crisis in eastern neighbor Ukraine, and the government sought to curb EU sanctions on Moscow. According to Fico, trade relations and imports of Russian gas must take precedence over the Kremlin, which has drawn criticism from EU colleagues. Much of Slovakia’s important car export goes to the Russian Federation.
About 40% of the gas that the EU imports from the Russian Federation is transported through Ukraine and Slovakia. In September, Slovakia opened a pipeline for the supply of natural gas from the EU back to Ukraine, after Moscow stopped gas supplies there. Later, the Russian gas flow to Slovakia suddenly declined without explanation.
Slovakia is dependent on Russian spare parts for the Air Force’s MIG plan and during the year held talks with Sweden about Swedish JAS Gripen. In August, Slovakia, Sweden and the Czech Republic wrote a letter of intent on cooperation. Slovakia and the Czech Republic will cooperate in monitoring the common airspace, and since the Czech Republic uses Gripen, Slovakia will enter into negotiations with Sweden on possible purchase or lease of the same type of plan.
Slovakia opposed the European Commission’s proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 (from 1990 levels). The argument was lost competitiveness against the rest of the world. Slovakia’s largest private employer is an American-owned coal-fired steel plant in Košice with about 11,000 employees.
Parliament decided in June on an addition to the Constitution, where marriage was defined as a covenant between men and women in order to prevent legislative changes that open to same-sex marriage. However, the issue must be submitted to a referendum in 2015.