(Bloomberg) -- Slovak anti-corruption parties -- propelled by lingering anger at the murder of an investigative reporter two years ago -- scored an unexpectedly large majority in elections on Saturday, an exit poll showed.
Six groups, led by Ordinary People, garnered a combined 64.2% of votes, according to the survey by Focus for TV Markiza. They’ve vowed to join forces to dislodge the ruling Smer party, which has been tainted by graft accusations and came second with 14.9%.
“Public pressure to make a deal and oust Smer will be enormous,” Grigorij Meseznikov, director of the Institute for Public Affairs in Bratislava, said before the ballot. “They won’t let the chance escape.”
The result leaves Slovakia rooted in Europe’s mainstream -- heading off the risk it could deviate along the rebellious paths followed by nearby Hungary and Poland. It comes less than a year after voters in the European Union and euro-region member elected their first woman president in a rebuke to nationalist and euroskeptic forces.
The opposition bloc rode a wave of fury as the journalist’s killing exposed links between politicians and organized crime, triggering the biggest street protests in decade.
That spelled the end for Smer’s long-serving populist leader, Robert Fico, though the party retained power and there’d been speculation it could cling on for even longer by teaming up with the far-right People’s Party, which won 6.5% in Saturday’s election.
The probable new coalition contains some unlikely bedfellows, melding together the anti-immigrant and anti-gay partnership We Are Family to Progressive Slovakia, which stands for the precise opposite. That could mean a volatile government -- not what Slovakia needs amid a slowdown in its huge auto industry, the world’s biggest per capita.
Igor Matovic -- the entrepreneur and lawmaker who heads Ordinary People, and the likely new prime minister -- is himself a divisive character.
He’s been a hit on social by railing against corruption, demanding in one video from Cannes, France, that a villa belonging to Fico’s former finance minister be confiscated. But he has a history of squabbling with potential allies and there’s doubt he can be a unifying force.
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