Slovak President Andrej Kiska won’t seek a second term in next year’s election, removing a key pro-European voice in a country that is at the center of a region gripped by a rise of euroskeptic and anti-establishment sentiment. Kiska told a news conference that he would step aside, saying some of his decisions had divided society. His departure would help end “the era of political confrontation,” he said. The former entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist said he wanted to spend more time with his family.
A political independent, Kiska frequently clashed with former Prime Minister Robert Fico, whom he surprisingly defeated in the 2014 presidential runoff. He has criticised the government for failing to investigate graft and was a vocal advocate of sanctions against Russia, a stance Fico opposed. Fico said he wouldn’t run in next year’s race.
In his most forceful intervention in government affairs, Kiska called for a “radical” revamp of the government following the execution-style murder this year of a journalist who was investigating ties between the government and organised crime.
Kiska remains the euro-zone country’s most trusted politician, according to opinion polls. He would probably have been the frontrunner in the election, which is slated to take place by March.