Slovaks will elect a new president in March, the NATO and eurozone member’s speaker of parliament Andrej Danko said in a statement Thursday, firing the starting gun on a leadership race that remains wide open.
Incumbent president Andrej Kiska, who is a vocal critic of the governing three-party coalition, announced in May that he would not run for a second term.
His main political opponent, former prime minister Robert Fico, will also not be vying for the job, as he is running for one of the vacant spots on the Constitutional Court.
“I announce that the Slovak presidential elections will take place on March 16,” Danko said on the parliament’s website.
If no one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the ballot, a second round will take place on March 30 in the country of 5.4 million people.
Senior coalition member Smer-SD, a populist-left party, has yet to announce its candidate. The party offered the candidacy to EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic, but he has yet to decide.
Bela Bugar, the leader of junior coalition member and Hungarian minority party Most-Hid, is among the more than dozen official presidential candidates.
Others include far-right lawmaker Marian Kotleba and Supreme Court justice Stefan Harabin.
Danko himself is also believed to be eyeing the presidency. He said Thursday that he would announce his decision later this month.