Youth of Slovakia has chosen - far-right political party
By Nina Francelová
Bratislava - Nationalistic tendencies are raising across the whole world and Slovakia is not an exception. More and more young Slovaks are turning to far-right party. The youth‘s preferences are causing new wrinkles not only to older people but also to the governors, who are looking for a way to forbid and hold back rising extreme manifestation of nationalism.
In last Parliamentary election on 5th March 2016, far-right party People’s Party – Our Slovakia lead by the chairman of Banskobystrický region, Marian Kotleba, gained 8 per cent of votes which emplaced Kotleba’s party to the fifth position in the chart of the political parties which gained most votes.
But even more surprising was the fact that in the category of the first-time voters he definitely won. More than 22 per cent of Slovaks from age 18 to 21 gave him their votes and more than one-third of all his voters are either students of high schools and universities or high school and university employees.
This fact shocked many people, mainly the old ones. They were asking themselves why so big part of young people have chosen a political party with radical opinions and extreme proposals of solutions. While some people are arguing on how it is possible, that young people are not idealistic anymore and want to lock themselves before international associations, others are thinking more further. “Many young people could find something attractive on this policy. Slovak politics have to deal with so big amount of problems, not only with minorities,” thinks Vlasta Kubizňová, history teacher on Secondary Grammar School in Martin who is working with the youth already for thirty-five years.
“Important questions of politics are also conditions of youth in the state – for example, their possibilities to move to their own flat and find a well-paid job. Young people feel frustrated. Policy of People’s Party – Our Slovakia gives them the power to solve something. To become heroes not for just themselves but also for their friend and family,” Kubizňová continues stressing the disagreement with a kind of power presentation as the train patrols. “Among to citizens it evocates feeling that state apparatus is not able to fulfil its duties. This leads to an uncertainty, discomfort and fear.”
Mainly after migrant crisis, more people are becoming sceptical about European Union policy and People’s Party – Our Slovakia is possibly giving a solution – leaving EU. But not only this point of its agenda is causing problems. Comments on gypsy and LGBT minorities are arising a question if it is this party still democratic or is Slovakia going back to the authoritarian regime.
But Slovakia is not the only country where are raising nationalistic tendencies. Also, Hungary with Viktor Orbán is a sign of rising nationalism, Austrian presidential battle between Alexander Van der Bellen a Norbert Hofer and last but not least Germany where in council election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region Merkel’s political party gained less votes than right-populistic party.
Kotleba with his colleagues are following the tradition of Slovak State, establishment during the Second World War connected with Nazi regime in Germany and Jews deportation to the concentration camps. That’s why many Slovaks were raising their eyebrows when People’s Party – Our Slovakia got into the Parliament. Some Slovaks call this party far-right, but others even use the words neo-Nazi.
On the topic of Slovak State and Jewish holocaust, ubizňová seems to be angry. “I hate when someone detracts or even deny the facts of Second World War. It didn’t happen so long time ago, our grandparents and great-grandparents still remember. Hundreds of us lost our family members and central Europe is full of pilgrimage memorials,” said teacher which several times per year takes her students to the local places in a region but also organises excursion to the Auschwitz. “If young people are forgetting about our history, it’s our fault. We are older, we should remind them traditions of our nations and historical moments either successful or not.”
On the question, whether she consider Kotleba’s party as far-right or neo-Nazi, she has a clear opinion. “Far-right party is for me a party which should be in a political spectre. But Mr Kotleba and his colleagues with their opinions are far behind democratic political spectre, that’s why I would call them neo-Nazi,” she adds.
Matúš Kulich, 21-year-old student of mathematics-physics at Charles university, is also first-voter of People’s Party – Our Slovakia. He is the only one from dozens who is able to speak openly without fear about his political preferences. However, he is often verbal assaulted from the others who see these political issues differently. “Nazism is a historical concept. I don’t see a point why to mark contemporary political parties with this name. It’s only a label which stains the party and deters people from voting it,” he thinks as referring to the Comenius university which few days after elections - on the day of the anniversary of Slovak State establishment – hung on the façade of university crossed swastika.
Talking about labels, Matúš doesn’t see anything wrong about calling gypsy minority parasites and LGBT community perverts. “They are calling them with their real names.” His opinion is also formed by catholic church, as he admits later. “LGBT community cannot have the same rights as heterosexual people. Homosexuality is something against God’s order,” he said while touching charm of Virgin Mary on his neck.
Even after several dozen years, when Slovak State doesn’t exist anymore, opinion on Dr Jozef Tiso (president of Slovak State) is not clear. One side thinks that be proud of Slovak State is insane because of Jewish genocide, while the others apperceive his figure as a national hero, who stands behind first Slovak State.
“Difference between opinions on Slovak State is natural. We can take to the consideration religion question, ideology question, as well as social sphere, and so on. But usually, from politics and media we hear that only one opinion is ‘right.’ Important is to understand that every view is different and it is impermissible to enforce people to have just one. It’s deforming their own identity,” thinks young historian and also Kotleba supporter who doesn’t want to be named. He is legitimately afraid of his future career because just in the beginning of the September was historian working in Nation’s Memory Institute fired because he was publicly supporting Kotleba and reveal positive opinions on Slovak State and Dr Tiso.
“This is censorship,” said historian, let’s call him Svetozár. “He wasn’t allowed to finish his own research and present his opinions. One of the unwritten characteristics of a historian is an ability to observe independently, bear up pressures from society and politicians and depersonalize himself of ideological ideas.”
So six months after elections Slovakia moved. Court tries to ban train patrols, attorney generalship searches for the way how to cancel Kotleba’s party. People are asking why they want to ban something what was once legitimately allowed on democratic principles. “If governors just cancel the political party, they would anger at least 200 000 people who support Kotleba. That is not a solution,” says Svetozár. “Problem is that public sphere, where we shouldn’t be afraid to express our opinion is controlled. About certain issues we should discuss, not just forbid it.”
From the Ministry of Education came instructions during the summer. Teachers should be aware of extremism and put more stress on explaining ideologies and their consequences. Kubizňová also thinks that government is suddenly trying to do everything to educate young people more. “But these instructions are useless. A good teacher does everything he can with or without instructions.”
“We also have to understand,” she adds, “that Slovakia is a young country with young democracy. After all the centuries, when our ancestors were trying to eliminate ascendance of other nations, it’s kind of understandable. Our democracy is so young and fragile, that we tend to protect it even brainlessly from the people or interest which could possibly hurt us. Then big global problems, as is for example a migrant crisis, could activate this kind of reaction. For some people adequate, for some not.”