Media freedom in Slovakia is heading into an uncertain new era, and a potential return to the past. On 16 October 2023, a new coalition government was formed following the closely contested general election in late September.

At the head of this new government is Robert Fico, the populist leader of the SMER party, which has joined together with centre-left HLAS and nationalist Slovak National Party.

For a country which has seen a process of rebuilding for media freedom in recent years following the murder in 2018 of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his partner – there is a worrying sense of déjà vu

Fico was the Prime Minister when the murder took place and was topped by mass protests – ending a rule in which journalists became the target of verbal attacks and denigration by politicians.

His comeback has sparked renewed concerns that the fragile progress made under the former government is in jeopardy, and could even go into swift reversal, as the grudge-holding Prime Minister and his new cabinet move to settle old scores.

In this episode of the MFRR In Focus, we speak to one of the country’s leading editors-in-chief about where the potential flashpoints for media freedom will be in the months ahead, and what the future could hold.

Guests: Beata Balogova, Editor-In-Chief of Slovak daily newspaper SME

Producer and Host: Jamie Wiseman, Europe Advocacy Officer at IPI

Editor: Javier Luque, Head of Digital Communications at IPI

Other episodes in this series:

MFRR in Focus: Reforming Croatia’s controversial draft media law

Related links:

Analysis: How much has media freedom in Slovakia changed five years after Ján Kuciak murder?

Fifth anniversary of Kuciak and Kušnírová’s killing marked by fragile press freedom progress

Deepfake audio of Denník N journalist offers worrying example of AI abuse

This podcast series is part of the MFRR in Focus project sponsored by Media Freedom Rapid Response, which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. The MFRR is organised by a consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) including ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT).

For more in-depth podcast episodes about the state of press freedom in Europe, visit the MFRR website or search MFRR In Focus on your podcasts apps. The MFRR is co-funded by the European Commission.