The 48-year-old Pellegrini is an ally of the pro-Russia Prime Minister Robert Fico. He had already held ministerial positions in previous governments led by Fico. In 2018, after Fico resigned as a result of the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his ban, Pellegrini replaced him as head of government.

Korcok is a staunch supporter of Ukraine, which borders Slovakia, and is running as an independent candidate. The 60-year-old is supported by the opposition parties.

In the first round, around 42 percent of the votes went to Korcok and around 37 percent to Pellegrini. The also pro-Russian candidate Stefan Harabin, who received the third-most votes in the first round with 12 percent, did not make a voting recommendation. However, according to a survey by the opinion research institute AKO, more than two thirds of his supporters wanted to vote for Pellegrini.

Voter turnout could be decisive for the outcome: According to AKO boss Vaclav Hrich, a higher turnout increases a victory for Pellegrini – as this would mean that he succeeded in mobilizing Harabin voters from the first round.

Korcok cast his vote on Saturday in his home town of Senec, near the capital Bratislava. He called on his compatriots to go to the polls. The vote is “also about the future of the country,” said Korcok. “I want to be at the beginning of the path that will improve living conditions in this country,” he added.

When he cast his vote, Pellegrini said the election could be “extremely close.” However, he emphasized that it would not be about the future direction of foreign policy. Slovakia will continue to be a “strong member of the EU and NATO”.

In Slovakia’s political system, the president ratifies international treaties, appoints high-ranking judges, is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and can veto laws passed by parliament.