New face of Slovak nationalism scares liberals
The recent elections in Slovakia presented an unpleasant surprise for European liberals and Atlanticists, as the nationalist parties achieved serious progress. The Slovak National Party (SNS) - the oldest in the country - won 16 seats in parliament, with 8.64% of Slovaks voting for them. But the most notorious result of the election was the 15 seats of the new party "People's Party - Our Slovakia" (L'SNS), with 8% of the electorate voting for them. The Left and the liberal media have called them a neo-Nazi Slovak political structure, accusing them of all mortal sins.
Nationalism is on the rise
The election results show a growth of nationalist sentiment in Slovakia against the background of the migration crisis in Europe, especially since L'SNS have never been elected to Parliament before. In the previous parliamentary elections in 2012, the Slovak National Party failed to overcome the 5% barrier and, consequently, was unable to have a presence in parliament. Now they are among the five winners, and Prime-Minister Robert Fico will be forced to conclude an agreement on the formation of a coalition government with one of them. Fico himself also holds an anti-migrant and sovereigntist position, even though formally he is a social democrat.
It is significant that the party L'SNS enjoys the support of confident young people. According to the polls, more than 32% of the electorate who voted for the party experienced the polls for the first time. It presents a new, young face of Slovak nationalism.
"Old" Slovak nationalism
For a long period of time it was the Slovak National Party that represented the face of Slovak nationalism. The Slovak National Party (SNS) considers itself the successor to the political structure of the same name, established in 1871. As is stated in the party’s program documents, it is conservative, Christian, and socially orientated. In the field of foreign policy, SNS adheres to Euroscepticism and supports the expansion of friendly relations with Russia. In 2006, the party acted in a coalition with Robert Fico’s party "Direction - Social Democracy", a decision that made Slovakia one of the most important political and economic partners of Russia in Eastern Europe.
The Slovak National Party supports Robert Fico’s policy of opposing the plans of the European Union on the voluntary-compulsory resettlement of migrants
A distinctive feature of the SNS is Magyarophobia; they consider the Hungarian minority in Slovakia to be a hostile group. Hungarians are suspected of having irredentist intentions, and of striving to annex parts of Slovakia, populated by Hungarians, to the Hungarian State. Former party leader Jan Slota repeatedly made insulting remarks to the Hungarians.
The new face of Slovak nationalism
In the past, the leader of the “People's Party - Our Slovakia” (L'SNS), Marian Kotleba, led the banned far-right party “Slovak Togetherness” – a national Party. This historical fact makes it "neo-Nazi" in the eyes of the liberal establishment. L'SNS was founded in 2009 and, until recently, was not represented in parliament. Kotleba’s party declares its adherence to conservatism, the protection of Christian values, and socially orientation. In addition, the new party supported the strengthening of friendly relations with Russia.
Contrary to other Slovak nationalist parties, it is less xenophobic, thus, if the SNS is against Hungarians and Gypsies, the L' SNS is not anti-Hungarian but has a negative attitude towards "social parasites of all kinds, including Gypsy social parasites." In addition, unlike the Slovak National Party, "People's Party - Our Slovakia" not only was in favor of a sovereign policy in the European Union, but also promises to withdraw from the European Union. This is the only parliamentary party that openly supports Slovakia exiting the "NATO terrorist organization" and is anti-American.
Black Pole of Europe
L'SNS, reportedly, has links with the Hungarian nationalist party Jobbik, which previously had not been a characteristic of Slovak nationalist parties. If this information is correct, then the victory of the new party can become a sign of the formation of a new alliance of the far-right organizations in Europe, overcoming deeply rooted contradictions in order to fight a common evil. Jobbik supports an alliance with a number of radical organizations in Europe, including the Greek "Golden Dawn", which is also a parliamentary party. Political structures of a similar orientation could be found elsewhere in Europe, but they do not have the same influence as in Greece, Hungary, and Slovakia. Amidst them is the anti-immigrant movement Pegida, which became German-European, the German National Democratic Party, the Italian Fiamma Tricolore and Forza Nuova, and smaller parties in other European countries. All these structures have an anti-American orientation and advocate the transformation of Europe into a sovereign geopolitical pole. All of them hold a Eurosceptic position, are opposed to the dictate of Brussels in general, and are against the uncontrolled reception of migrants in the EU.
At the same time, some points on their agenda - being against national and gender minorities, against NATO membership, possessing an anti-Israel stance, and a rigid nationalist rhetoric - distinguish them profoundly from respectable right parties like "National Front", "Northern League", or the Austrian "Freedom Party".
The migration crisis in Europe and the sanctions war with Russia has affected the economy of the continent, and has led to an increase of support for not only the right-conservative parties like the "National Front", but also to an increase in the importance of radical movements that advocate the revision of key positions of the European idea. At the same time the goals that they set out in terms of common threats and being in a united integration association space requires, at least, the creation of structures to harmonize and coordinate actions with.
If significant obstacles to the creation of such structures among West-European nationalists didn’t exist, the situation in Eastern Europe would be different. As a rule, the relationship between the East-European nationalists is the most tense. The complex history of conflicts in the region, associated with the redrawing of borders, wars, and mutual insults aimed towards the people living on its territory, contribute to the fact that the projection of the negative past into the present has the upper hand over tendencies of cooperation. Hungarians cannot find a common language with the Slovaks, Romanians, and Serbs, who, in turn, cannot find a common language with Croats, Romanians, Hungarians etc.
Therefore, the presence of a nationalist party in the Slovak Parliament, which is not openly anti-Magyar, is already a sign of change in Eastern European nationalism. Much like the case of Western Europe, common problems of importance have outweighed old grievances. These problems are the invasion of migrants and the prospect of their redistribution among the EU countries.
Reasons for the defamatory campaign against the Slovak nationalists
Attacks in the media against L'SNS are connected precisely with the fact that this structure can be a part of such a pan-European alliance. The Slovak National Party is equally, if not more, xenophobic, but its success does not shock European liberals. The reason for this is that it does not oppose NATO membership, and the most important thing is that it is not able to coordinate its actions with the radicals from neighboring Hungary. The European establishment is not afraid of far-right parties because, whilst the strategy of "divide and conquer" is working, they are not a threat. On the contrary, liberals themselves in Europe present a united front. A threat can only come from a nationalist alliance, concerted actions, and the formation of a pan-European radical alternative to Atlanticists and European bureaucrats.