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Opposition win Slovakia election

A leftist party led by one of the few leading politicians in Slovakia to escape voter anger over a major corruption scandal has been propelled back into power in an early parliamentary election, according to final results.

Smer-Social Democracy of former Prime Minister Robert Fico is a clear winner with 44.4% of the vote, or 83 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, with votes from all 5,956 polling stations counted.

President Ivan Gasparovic said he would formally ask Mr Fico to form a new government but gave no timetable.

The result allows Mr Fico to govern alone - one party rule has not happened in Slovakia since the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

However, Mr Fico has offered opposition parties a chance to join forces and form a two-party coalition government, but all other parliamentary parties rejected his offer. Before the election, Mr Fico had discussed a necessity to create a strong, stable government, possibly formed by two parties, amid another economic downturn and efforts to save the eurozone.

Mr Fico - considered a populist leader - has pledged to maintain a welfare state, increase corporate tax and hike income tax for the highest earners.

"We succeeded with what we offered as an alternative," Mr Fico said. "We've achieved a result that is a pleasant surprise for us, to be honest."

The outgoing centre-right, four-party coalition received a combined 51 seats, on the back of voter anger over a major corruption scandal.

Turnout was surprisingly high at 59.11%. Analysts had predicted a record low turnout, as voters were expected to register their anger over allegations that a private financial group bribed government and opposition politicians in 2005-06 to win lucrative privatisation deals.

The "Gorilla" files - posted online by an anonymous source in December and said to be based on wiretaps - have rocked Slovak politics. One former economy minister is said to have received the equivalent of £8.3 million for his assistance.

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