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Analysis: Attack on Slovakia's prime minister exposes risks in a polarized Europe

The horrific scenes in Slovakia following the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Robert Fico are a stark and brutal reminder of the dangers faced by those seeking public office.

Fico, a pro-Russian left-wing populist, is recovering this Thursday (16) after being shot several times in the stomach. Government ministers closely aligned with the prime minister quickly called the shooting “politically motivated,” pointing the finger of blame for the toxic political atmosphere at the opposition and the media.

But Fico himself has been guilty of using emotional language in the past. He claimed that the country's outgoing progressive president, Zuzana Čaputová, was an “American agent” and accused her – without any evidence – of acting in the interests of US financier George Soros, a frequent target of US theories. conspiracy. Čaputová's allies said the comments prompted death threats.

The issue is obviously not limited to Slovakia. Politics across Europe and elsewhere has become deeply divided over the past decade, with populists on the far right and radical left increasing their influence in both domestic and European politics.

Ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza have heightened these tensions, as citizens expect their leaders to take a stance on highly controversial issues. These tensions exist in the same space as a political system that forces elected officials to meet and mingle with the people who elect them to office.

The attack came at a time of extreme political divisions over Slovakia's position in the world and its future.

Fico is, and has always been, a highly controversial politician. His supporters see him as a thoughtful leader who has their interests in mind. His opponents say he is a corrupt populist whose pro-Russian leanings pose great risks.

Fico's comments led Čaputová to take legal action against him, suing him for defamation.

Despite being one of the most popular Slovak politicians, Čaputová announced last year that she would step down and not run again. She specifically cited verbal attacks against her and her family as one of the reasons she felt she “didn’t have enough strength” to serve another term.

The assassination attempt on Fico came as his coalition government attempts to implement a series of divisive measures, triggering months of large-scale peaceful protests.

Source: CNN Brasil

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