Campaigning on an anti-immigration platform, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico’s ruling leftist party, Smer-Social Democracy, won the country’s recent parliamentary election, gaining 28.3 percent of the vote, or 49 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, reported the AP. A neo-Nazi party, People’s Party-Our Slovakia, also gained parliamentary seats.
Formed in 1993 after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia into two independent republics—one Czech, one Slovak—Slovakia, until this past weekend, had never elected an avowed Nazi or neo-Nazi to national office. Nazi salutes are even banned in the country whose Jewish population was decimated during the Holocaust and never recovered. But Nazi sentiments have been around in Slovakia as far back as World War II, during which the First Slovak Republic, a precursor to today’s Slovakia, was created as a client state for Nazi Germany.
Today, these sentiments thrive in neo-Nazi political parties like People’s Party-Our Slovakia, which captured eight percent of the electorate’s vote, or roughly 14 seats in the 150-person parliament elected every four years. The Smer-Social Democracy party maintained its hold on a plurality of seats; however, as the Washington Post reported, the 28.3% of the vote that Fico’s party received “represents a significant drop in support from the 2012 election when Smer took 44.4 percent and was able to govern alone.” As leader of the multi-party parliament, Fico will now need to find partners to form a coalition government. Reported the Chicago Tribune:
Along with the SaS, the Ordinary People and We Are Family parties also said they’ll refuse to work with Fico in government. If they stick to their vow, lacking a majority of their own, it would mean any new cabinet would have to include both Smer and the Slovak National Party. Nevertheless, Fico vowed to push on with his task of forming a coalition.
“As the party that won the election we have the obligation to try build a meaningful and stable government,” Fico told Reuters. “It will not be easy, I am saying that very clearly.”
Marián Kotleba, the chairman of People’s Party-Our Slovakia, is not new to the Slovak political scene. He previously headed a different, now-banned neo-Nazi party which organized anti-Roma rallies and praised the Slovak-Nazi collaborationist government of years ago. In 2013, he made waves after winning a regional governor’s race. Back then, the Economist wrote that “if there is any bright side to Mr. Kotleba’s victory, it is that he will end up wielding minimal formal power.” Perhaps that was the case for a governorship. But now, as the leader of a neo-Nazi party with a number of seats in parliament, Kotleba will wield significant formal power.
Jordana Narin is an intern at Tablet