Chairman of winning party in Slovak vote to form government

International News

Leader of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party Igor Matovic arrives for an interview day after the Slovakia’s general election in Bratislava, Sunday, March 1, 2020. The center-right populist opposition has claimed victory in the parliamentary election in Slovakia. The win ends the reign of the country’s long-dominant but scandal-tainted leftist party that governed on an anti-immigration platform. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia’s president on Wednesday asked the chairman of the winning party in the country’s parliamentary election to form a new government.

Igor Matovic and his center-right populist opposition group Ordinary People captured 25% of Saturday’s vote to win. It will have 53 seats in the 150-seat parliament.

If Matovic, 46, succeeds, he will become the prime minister.

President Zuzana Caputova said her country needs “a strong, legitimate and new government soon.”

The victory of the Ordinary People ended the reign of the long-dominant, but scandal-tainted leftist party in a move that analysts said showed a strong desire by voters to end corruption.

The senior ruling leftist Smer-Social Democracy party led by former populist Prime Minister Robert Fico came in second with 18.3%, or 38 seats. Fico’s party was damaged by political turmoil following the 2018 slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

The pro-western Matovic, 46, has made fighting corruption and attacking Fico the central tenet of his campaign.

Matovic wants to govern with the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party, which captured 6.2% support and 13 seats and the conservative For People established by former President Andrej Kiska that finished with 5.8% of the vote and 12 seats.

Although the three parties would have a majority with 78 seats, Matovic said he also wanted to rule with a local ally of France’s far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen, We Are Family, a populist right-wing group that placed third in Saturday’s vote with 8.2% support and 17 seats.

Matovic said he will meet the chairmen of the three parties on Thursday.

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