Slovakia PM Fico in serious but stable condition, shooting fuels fears of Europe political violence

“I strongly condemn the vile attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a post on X. “Such acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good,” she said.

“Violence must not be existant in European politics,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a post on X on Wednesday, calling the attempt on Fico’s life a “cowardly attack.”

Simon Harris, Ireland’s taoiseach, or prime minister, called the assault a “shocking and vile attack on democracy” in a post on X, with leaders across Europe echoing similar sentiments.

“Shots at Robert are shots at freedom and democracy,” Serbian Prime Minister Miloš Vučević said in a separate post, adding: “There cannot be any place for violence in politics.”

Political experts and pro-democracy advocates in Europe also weighed in, warning of concerns around the future of democratic discourse across the continent.

“Politicians & journalists are key pillars of our democratic systems. When they are targeted by any kind of violence or intimidation, we all lose. Democracy loses,” wrote Ricardo Borges de Castro, a senior adviser to the European Policy Center.

“We strongly condemn the attempted assassination of Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico and call for a swift, impartial investigation into today’s attack,” Freedom House, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., said Wednesday, just days after posting an analysis on how Fico’s Smer party “posed challenges to democratic resilience.”

“Such brazen political violence is completely unacceptable in any context,” said Freedom House, which Russia designated an “undesirable” organization earlier this month, effectively banning anyone from working or collaborating with the group.

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