The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, remains hospitalized in very serious condition after being shot on Wednesday by a man, detained at the same scene of the events, and who acted, according to the police and the Government, for political motivations. Fico, 59, is conscious and can communicate, according to the president-elect, Peter Pellegrini, who visited him yesterday at the Roosevelt hospital in Banská Bystrica, the city to which the prime minister was transferred after suffering the attack in another town, Handlová.

The assassination attempt against Robert Fico, the first of this magnitude in Europe in twenty years after the assassination in 2003 of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, has shocked the continent and provoked unanimous international condemnation. At the same time, it has brutally exposed the dangers of an increasingly polarized and frenetic political climate, not only in Slovakia – where this has been the case for years – but also in other countries of the European Union (EU).

While Robert Fico, stabilized after undergoing surgery for five hours on the night of Wednesday to Thursday by two medical teams, faced a still very serious prognosis, in the country’s capital, the political class swung between calls for calm and reproaches with risk of further inflaming the situation in this country of 5.4 million inhabitants. Yesterday Bratislava was a hive of institutional statements, crisis cabinets, and press conferences about the assassination attempt and its consequences.

“If there is something that the Slovak people urgently need today, it is, at least, a basic consensus and unity among the Slovak political representatives,” said the elected President of the Republic, Peter Pellegrini, in an appearance alongside the outgoing president, Zuzana. Caputová, in the palace of the head of state. The victory of Pellegrini – whose party is part of Fico’s coalition government – ​​in the April presidential elections unnerved the alleged aggressor, as the Minister of the Interior, Matús Sutaj Estok, explained at a press conference. The detainee, the police and the Government maintain, is a lone wolf who became radicalized and acted for political motivations.

The liberal and environmentalist Caputová, who refused to run for re-election in the presidential polls precisely because of the threats received as a result of Robert Fico’s furious verbal attacks, called to “get out of the vicious circle of hatred.”

At his side, Pellegrini urged the parties to “temporarily suspend” the campaign for the European elections in June (voting takes place here on Saturday the 8th), to stop “mutual accusations” and because “Slovakia does not need more confrontations at this time.” Pellegrini will succeed Caputová as head of state from June 15.

In a country torn by divisions between a pro-Russian government and a pro-European and pro-Western opposition, Fico’s partners attacked media outlets critical of the government and the opposition, accusing them of exacerbating tensions. Pointing to critical media coverage, Interior Minister Matús Sutaj Estok said the suspect rejected the government’s plan to abolish a prosecutor’s office overseeing anti-corruption investigations. “The shooter was interested in politics; “He followed the news that you wrote,” said the minister, insinuating that such information was not true. The largest opposition party, the liberal Progressive Slovakia, condemned the attack on Wednesday and canceled the protest march that was scheduled for that night.

Meanwhile, the prime minister is admitted to the intensive care unit, where he will remain because, despite being stable, “his condition is really very serious; he suffers multiple injuries,” reported Miriam Lapuniková, director of the Roosevelt hospital. There he was visited by President-elect Pellegrini, who upon leaving said that Robert Fico “can speak, but only a few sentences, and then he is very tired because he is taking medication.” In Bratislava, Defense Minister Robert Kalinák said that it cannot yet be said that “the prognosis is positive, because the magnitude of the wounds caused by four shots is so great that the body’s response will still be very difficult.”

While Robert Fico is hospitalized, the powers of government leadership are shared among his four deputies, although one could be designated as leader during this incapacitation. Fico’s tripartite coalition, with a comfortable parliamentary majority, is made up of his populist social democratic party Smer-SSD, and two partners: Hlas – a split from Smer, officially social democratic but more centrist and liberal – and the ultranationalist SNS.

The attack against Fico has set off alarm bells in Brussels, whose leaders warned that actions like this, or the recent attacks on politicians in Germany, could encourage ideologically motivated violence in other EU countries before the European elections. which are celebrated between June 6 and 9, depending on each country.

Just yesterday, the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, revealed that he has received death threats after the attempted assassination of his Slovak counterpart. “There was a lot of this yesterday [on Wednesday],” he said on the social network certain investment in a Polish airport.

The leaders of the EU condemned in unison the attack perpetrated against one of the most conflictive European leaders in the eternal search for community consensus. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, sent a letter to the Slovak President Caputová, wishing Fico a full recovery, where she made it clear that “any violent attack against a democratically elected representative is also an attack against democracy.” Already on Wednesday, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed her condemnation on the social network X, arguing that “these acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good.” .

Also the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, condemned the attack, dismayed. “Once again we are witnessing unacceptable attacks against political representatives,” said Borrell.