Photographer: Lisi Niesner/Bloomberg

Party With ‘Fascist Tendencies’ Faces Slovak Court Showdown

Slovakia’s attorney general asked the country’s top court to dissolve the People’s Party, citing its extremist nature and attempts to overthrow democracy a year after unexpectedly winning seats in parliament.

The party, which controls 14 of the legislature’s 150 seats, is led by Marian Kotleba, a former high-school teacher who’s been indicted for inciting racial hatred. In the past, Kotleba has praised Jozef Tiso, president of the Slovak fascist satellite state during World War II, a regime that sent tens of thousands of Jews to Nazi concentration camps where most of them perished.

In Slovakia, which joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, Kotleba’s party has been snubbed by all other parliamentary parties and President Andrej Kiska has repeatedly criticized Kotleba and called him “a fascist” at public events. Still, it won support among young voters who liked his anti-EU and anti-NATO rhetoric. The party is now the third strongest in the country of 5.4 million, according to opinion polls.

Investigators have found Kotleba’s group is an “extremist political party with fascist tendencies, whose program and activities breach the constitution, laws and international agreements,” Andrea Predajnova, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, told the SITA news service Thursday. It also seeks “to remove Slovakia’s current democratic system.”

The move to ban the party from politics should have happened much sooner, possibly before the last general election, Grigorij Meseznikov, director of the Bratislava-based Institute for Public Affaris, said Thursday by phone.

“If laws are to be respected, it isn’t possible to allow a party like this that works to destroy democracy” to go on as it is “evident” it’s gaining more popularity as it part of parliament, he said.

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