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Marian Kotleba: Slovakia's New Neo-Nazi Governor Only Latest of Right-Wing Extremists Emerging In Eastern Europe

An extreme right-wing political candidate has gained high office in the Eastern European nation of Slovakia, a member of the European Union and NATO. Marian Kotleba, chief of the ultra-nationalist Our Slovakia (LSNS) party, won election as regional governor of Banska Bystrica in the central part of the country, by polling 55.5 percent of the electorate in the second round of polls against the incumbent Vladimir Manka, who represents the Smer-Social Democrat party of Prime Minister Robert Fico. In Slovakia's other self-governing regions, the ruling Social Democrats won six districts, while the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union Party (SDKU) retained the capital of Bratislava.

Kotleba, whose organization has long agitated against Slovakia's Roma (Gypsy) minority, branding them as "parasites," once belonged to the now-outlawed Neo-Nazi Slovenská Pospolitost( (Slovak Community) movement that praised the Nazi puppet government that ruled the country during World War II. Bloomberg reported that Kotleba openly admires praised Jozef Tiso, president of the Nazi satellite state in Slovakia during World War II, which dispatched thousands of Jews to Nazi concentration camps. Kotleba, a 36-year-old former high school teacher, has been notorious for sporting Nazi-style uniforms in public, and also repeatedly arrested and sued for spreading racism and hate (no such charges have ever stuck, however).

BBC reported that, with respect to foreign policy, Kotleba has called for Slovakia to cancel its membership in NATO, which his party considers a "terrorist" organization, gain more independence from the EU and establish a national currency. PressEuropa also noted that Kotleba once vowed to "end the unfair preferential treatment accorded to parasites, and not just the gypsies."

According to Bloomberg, Slovakia's Roma community, which account for about 7 percent of the population, has become a scapegoat for an economic slowdown and the likelihood of increased government austerity measures to satisfy the EU's deficit targets. SME, a Slovak daily newspaper, said Kotleba's triumph was sparked by "a mixture of hatred, powerlessness and outrage against the elites." Pavol Freso, the SDKU candidate who won in Bratislava, characterized Kotleba's victory as "a huge blow for democracy." However, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that Kotleba's victory came as a surprise since he lost in the first round of the election, did not campaign much and participated in only one debate. RFE/RL added that less than one-fifth (17 percent) of eligible voters bothered to cast ballots in the election, suggesting that Kotleba's performance reflected voter apathy and hardly represents a mandate by the public.

[Source: By Palash Ghosh, International Business Times, NY, 25Nov13]

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small logoThis document has been published on 30Dec13 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.