Slovakia's presidential election goes to second round

A man prepares to cast his ballot at a polling station during the first round presidential elections in Bratislava March 15, 2014. Voters have lost trust in established parties following allegations of sleaze

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Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico and independent challenger Andrej Kiska will go forward to the second round of the country's presidential elections.

In Saturday's first round, Mr Fico polled 28.2% with Mr Kiska on 24% on a turnout of 43.4%.

Independent conservative Radoslav Prochazka was third with 20.8%.

As no candidate gained 50% of the votes, a second round run-off will be held in two weeks' time for the mainly ceremonial post.

Mr Fico's left-wing Smer party won the parliamentary election in 2012.

The 49-year-old had previously served as prime minister from 2006-10, pursuing an anti-austerity agenda.

Since the 2012 elections his party has governed alone - the first time since independence that a party secured an absolute majority in the Slovak parliament.

Slovakia's president has the power to appoint the prime minister, as well as the main figures in the judiciary.

However, parliament exercises legislative power.

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico speaks at a news conference at the end of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine, in Brussels (6 March 2014) Robert Fico led his country into the euro during his previous term as prime minister

The BBC's Rob Cameron, in Prague, says that Mr Fico's bid for the presidency is seen as an attempt to make his domination of Slovak politics total.

Public anger

Outgoing President Ivan Gasparovic was elected for the first of two five-year terms in 2004 as voters united against former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar.

Slovakia adopted the euro in 2009 during Mr Fico's previous term as prime minister.

The country has since seen significant economic growth.

Past governments had been blamed for privatisation scandals and other forms of corruption.

Candidate Andrej Kiska speaks to journalists after casting his ballot for the Slovak presidential election in Poprad, 300 kilometres (186 miles) northeast of Bratislava, Saturday, March 15, 2014. Andrej Kiska is seen as a candidate untainted by a political past

Analysts say challenger Andrej Kiska is riding a wave of continuing popular anger at allegations of sleaze and distrust in established parties.

The 51-year-old millionaire says he wants to fight corruption and create a more efficient government.

"Traditional politicians do not deal with the real problems of real people, so I decided to run for president in order to try and change that," he told the Agence France-Presse news agency in the run-up to Saturday's vote.

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