Slovakia's ex-premier to launch new party

Slovakia's former PM Peter Pellegrini presented project  for founding his own party on Wednesday, news wires reported. The announcement came a week after his withdrawal as deputy leader of the social democratic Smer party. Pellegrini said he wants to found a party "with transparent financing and with no oligarchs in the background."

His comments were a nod to suspicions that Smer, which is currently led by former long-serving PM Robert Fico, may be involved in corruption and abuse of office. Fico had become popular for his stance against corruption over 20 years ago, dpa recalls. He founded Smer, which became the first party ever to achieve an absolute majority in the 2012 parliamentary elections.

After the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in February 2018, which  sparked mass protests, Fico handed over his post as government leader to Pellegrini, but remained party leader. Pellegrini handed over the leadership of the country to new Prime Minister Igor Matovic in March.

Surveys show that 44-year-old Pellegrini is by far the most popular social democrat in Slovakia. According to a recently published poll, cited by dpa, Pellegrini could win more than twice as many votes with his own new party as with the Smer party.

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