AP November 18, 2016, 9:52 AM
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- The wave of far-right parties across Europe has been gathering steam from Greece to France, Austria and Germany. While most of the continent’s extreme forces have taken pains to steer clear of Nazi imagery, Slovakia’s answer to the trend celebrates it.
Kotleba - The People’s Party Our Slovakia - won almost 10 percent of the seats in Parliament in March. It openly admires the Nazi puppet state which the country was during the World War II.
Party members use Nazi salutes, blame Roma for crime in deprived areas, consider NATO a terror group and want the country out of the alliance and the European Union.
The party takes its name from its leader, Marian Kotleba, previously chairman of the banned neo-Nazi Slovak Togetherness-National Party, which organized anti-Roma rallies and admired Nazi rule in Slovakia.
Thousands have signed a petition demanding that the party be banned. Analysts say the party’s popularity could grow even further.
Its simple slogan - “With courage against the system!” - attracts young people fed up with corruption and the inability of mainstream parties to deal effectively with the post-communist country’s problems.
In contrast to most of Europe’s far-right groups, “it’s truly neo-Nazi, it advocates the legacy of the Nazi war state,” says Eduard Chmelar, a Slovak political analyst.
Miroslav Mares, an expert on extremism from the Masaryk University in the Czech city of Brno, said the party belongs to the “hard core of right-wing extremism” in Europe. He said it has only some features similar to Greece’s Golden Dawn partyand to Hungary’s Jobbik at its beginning.
What they have in common is targeting the mainstream politics.