February 15, 2016 / 1:23 PM / 3 years ago

Slovakia's ruling leftists set to win election, lose majority: poll

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico addresses a news conference after a European Union leaders extraordinary summit on the migrant crisis in Brussels, Belgium September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovakia’s ruling leftist party remains on course to win March elections with a double-digit lead over the closest challenger but may lose its outright majority in parliament, an opinion poll showed on Monday.

Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer party had 38.4 percent support in the Polis poll, down from 41.0 percent a month ago and the 44.4 percent that gave it a clear majority in the 2012 vote.

Monday’s survey showed Fico winning 67 seats in the 150-member parliament. A coalition with his most likely ally, the nationalist SNS party which has gained in polls, would give them a combined 83 seats.

Newcomer centrist party Siet, which has sought to establish itself as the main opposition force, polled at 10.4 percent, down from 13.8 percent in January.

Fico has made immigration a main platform of his campaign, while the opposition has focused on anti-corruption rhetoric and promises of business-friendly reforms.

The two-time prime minister remains popular thanks partly to a package of social welfare measures in the last year, including hikes to maternity benefits and halving the sales tax on some groceries.

However, he has also faced public protests in the past weeks from teachers and nurses demanding higher wages.

A strong result for Siet and other center-right and ethnic Hungarian parties could lead to either a wider coalition led by Smer, a grand coalition of Siet with Smer, or a wide coalition of opposition parties that would eject Smer from power.

Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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