26th Aug 2019

EU socialists kick out Slovaks in 'historic' move

European socialists have made a "historical" move to temporarily suspend the party of the Slovak prime minister from its meetings and decision-making, due to Slovakia's social democrats lining up with extreme nationalists in the country's ruling coalition.

After almost a three-hour debate at the European socialist party's headquarters in Brussels on Thursday (13 October), national delegations from all EU member states but Slovakia and the Czech Republic voted to freeze contacts with the Slovak SMER party.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We have decided on a resolution which is historical," said Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the president of the Party of European Socialists (PES), adding "Never before in our history we had such a clear, open and frank discussion about our values."

He stressed that the decision signalled not only the party's view on the "regretful" situation in Slovakia but it had consequences for any potential links between socialist sister parties and the far-right in any other European country in the future.

"If we are not clear on extreme right-wing parties and on their relations with us, we are are really not defending our values and our responsibility for the whole of Europe," said Mr Rasmussen.

Robert Fico, SMER and Slovakia's leader, reacted with anger to the decision, arguing his party has been "punished for making politics in favour of people" and also because of its fight against monopolies - often owned by foreigners.

"We were also being punished for not taking the Hungarian party into the ruling coalition instead," he said through his spokeswoman.

Thursday's verdict means that the SMER party will not participate in any official sessions of the pan-European parties, it will lose its voting powers, plus Mr Fico will not meet other social democrat leaders at top gatherings, such as the traditional sessions before EU summits.

However, the European socialists want to keep in touch with the party and have agreed to meet next June and re-assess the situation in Slovakia - particularly with regards to the behaviour of SMER's coalition partner, the Slovak National Party led by Jan Slota.

Mr Slota has been criticised for his racist and extreme statements in the past.

"We can then either conclude that there has been a major reform in the Slota's party and a move away from extremist views or there's a possibility of a new ruling coalition in the country," Dutch socialist MEP Jan Marinus Wiersma told EUobserver.

"Perhaps, the European socialists' decision will trigger a change for the better in the party," he said.

Slovakia signals U-turn on tax

Slovakia has signalled for the first time it is eventually willing to enter into discussion about Brussels' desire to move into well-protected tax area, a move that has led to a political clash between the government and its opposition.

Orban praises von der Leyen after first face-to-face

The EU Commission president-elect said she had a "good talk" with Hungary's controversial premier. Orban returned the praise, saying said the former German defence minister "thinks with [a] central Europeans' head".

Von der Leyen aims to 'rebalance Europe'

The German EU Commission president-elect hopes to bridge divisions within the EU, as she meets with EU leaders setting up her team of commissioners.

Johnson's call for new Brexit deal hits EU 'no'

The UK will not nominate a new EU commissioner, the new British PM said in his first address to parliament, and insisted that the Irish backstop can be renegotiated - without giving any specifics on alternative solutions.

Selmayr shifted to Vienna, ahead of von der Leyen arrival

London and Washington had been rumoured, but instead the German political mastermind behind the EU commission will now work as a quasi-EU ambassador in Vienna. He irked many in Brussels but also shook things up.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Western leaders disagree on Russia, Iran, and Brazil
  2. Belgium: Parties clash on Reynders as EU commissioner
  3. Spain heading for yet another general election
  4. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  5. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  6. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  7. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  8. EU considers new rules on facial recognition

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us