|Members of the People's Party Our Slovakia group, led by Marian Kotleba (pictured), wear black uniforms reminiscent of Nazi-era collaborators. Photo: Reuters|
For the first time in the country’s post-socialist history, an anti-minority party with openly neo-fascist links, People’s Party-Our Slovakia, received 8 percent of the vote to gain 14 of the 150 seats in parliament. Even close observers of Eastern European politics (a rather small group) did not expect such a strong showing for the party led by Marian Kotleba, who has proudly donned the uniform of the country’s wartime fascists and has referred to Roma citizens as “gypsy parasites.” Instead, the experts had expected big gains for the established far-right party, the Slovak National Party (SNS), which has been trying to capitalize on Europe’s refugee crisis by indulging in xenophobic rhetoric. It seems, however, that many voters preferred the more extreme version on offer.
The magazine goes on to say:
Rather, they are emblematic of a broader trend: the far right’s growing appeal in Europe’s youngest and most vulnerable democracies.On Monday, after it had become known that a fascist party had won seats in parliament, the first public demonstration took place in Bratislava. Over a thousand people walked through the streets in silent protest of the fascist party and what they stand for.
|Bratislava Protest March (Source: TASR)|
The Slovak Spectator, an English newspaper in Slovakia, writes:
But repairing the damage these elections have done to Slovakia’s fragile democracy will take more than marching in Bratislava’s most privileged neighbourhood. It will take a long-term, nationwide campaign against extremism that visits schools, dominates media and resonates on social networks. It will require the vocal participation of many disparate groups, from sexual minorities to the church, from Roma to Muslims to Jews to mainstream Slovaks, from Holocaust survivors to the children of anti-communist dissidents. And in the end it will take many times more than a thousand people, because the true target of this protest is not Kotleba’s rabble, but the bitter, hopeless, cynical people who elected them.
The Slovak Spectator writes in another article:
Available data shows that many of voters of Kotleba’s party are young people who have never exercised their right to vote before, manual labourers and former voters of Smer party which have been at the helm of government for eight of ten past years. Just 8 percent of Kotleba’s voters said they backed the ĽSNS because of the migration crisis.
“Kotleba’s party in parliament is result of chronic social and economic insecurity, lack of perspectives and chronic lack of integrating values in our society,” Zuzana Kusá, a sociologist with the Slovak Academy of Sciences told The Slovak Spectator. “This situation has no simple or quick solution.”