Saturday

25th Nov 2017

Focus

Slovak nationalists weigh up Le Pen, Farage for EP group

  • Slovak MEPs candidates, including Maros Sefcovic and Ivan Stefanec (3rd and 4th from L), in an election debate (Photo: CEA)

While Slovak nationalists consider which group to cosy up to after the EU elections, analysts say that the European debate in the country is superficial and ignores the perils of extremism.

The Slovak National Party (SNS), polling at around 5 percent, currently sits in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, dominated by Nigel Farage's eurosceptic UK Independence Party.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But the party has indicated it may eventually be part of a far-right bloc envisaged by Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's National Front.

Party leader Andrej Danko is keeping his cards close to his chest for now. However, he confirmed to EUobserver that talks exploring ways of cooperation with Le Pen's party are under way.

"We have had contacts with potential partners. Our closest ally is the Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe), but we have also met representatives from the National Front and Sweden Democrats," said Danko.

"A group of patriotic parties in the European Parliament would strengthen voices advocating the EU as a community of sovereign states," he added.

Meanwhile, analysts suggest that the political debate in Slovakia is abstract, with parties focussing on another's overall stance towards Brussels, rather than on what they intend to try and achieve in the EP and with whom.

"The majority of parties claim their programme is either pro-Brussels or anti-Brussels. They fail to explain that it is other political parties, not the EU's executive, who is their ally or opponent in the European Parliament," says writer and commentator Michal Havran.

He is particularly critical of attempts to mock the EU in a simplistic, anecdotal style, while ignoring extremist parties that can make it, unchallenged, into the EU assembly.

"Some politicians feel they must fight Brussels' socialism, while the fascist far-right has a chance to make it to the European Parliament."

Slovakia itself has woke up to growing extremism after the leader of the far-right Our Slovakia party, Marian Kotleba, won the last local elections to lead the administration in the central region of Banska Bystrica.

He capitalised on strong anti-Roma rhetoric and general distrust in traditional political representation. A short while later he added the EU to his list of enemies.

He ordered the "occupying" EU flag to be lowered from his regional seat and he is trying to stop European funds going to local schools by refusing to co-finance the projects.

Although Kotleba's party is unlikely to make it into the European Parliament, Havran says this is no excuse for not tackling the causes of extremism in general – the socio-economic consequences of the crisis as well as how the EU talks to its citizens, runs its institutions and strikes internal deals.

The analyst notes the mainstream parties do not pay enough attention to the phenomenon.

Maros Sefcovic, leading the ruling social democrats' ticket (Smer-SD, polling at 39%), admits that frustration and existential uncertainty – which he sees as the main cause of harmful ideologies – are not being successfully addressed.

"We need even stronger emphasis on growth and investment, less administrative barriers that stifle economic activity and education aligned with the needs of labour markets," he says, adding: "anyone proposing a step back in the integration process effectively offers Slovakia's isolation".

Ivan Stefanec from the centre-right SDKU-DS (polling slightly above 6%) advocates "lower taxation, flexible labour laws and a smaller administrative burden" as the way to create jobs.

Slovakia's eurosceptics end EU honeymoon

The EU honeymoon is over for Slovakia, say analysts, as eurosceptic voices for the first time make themselves clearly heard in the run-up to European elections later this month.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Germany remains 'active' in EU
  2. Work with Israel, Egypt on gas exploration, says Commission
  3. Only seven EU states have 'advanced' stage climate plans
  4. EU dashes integration hopes of eastern countries
  5. EU approves joint Irish electricity scheme
  6. German president to launch 'Grand Coalition' talks
  7. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  8. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaPresident Sargsyan Joined EuFoA Honorary Council Inaugural Meeting
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  6. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  8. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  9. EPSUStudy Finds TUNED and Employers in Central Governments Most Representative
  10. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  11. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  12. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition