- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
One president, at least, spoke out in favor of values this week in Europe.
Andrej Kiska, president of Slovakia, told attendees at the GLOBSEC summit in Bratislava on Friday that “Our values are our strongest survival weapon against any enemy.” He went on, furiously subtweeting another traveling president, “That’s why we can act globally as the advocates of human rights and respect for the dignity of every single human being. Our values are the unique reason why we are the ‘good guys.’”
His speech was a long recital on how the true challenge to the West is defining precisely those values that make it “the West” in the first place: Kiska singled out strong civic institutions and democracy. What he wants, he said, is to make elections “boring” again.
He wasn’t just referring to the toxic climate that has seeped into politics in Britain, France, or the United States. Hours earlier, Slovakia’s prosecutors moved to carry out Kiska’s words by banning the country’s far-right party — People’s Party Our Slovakia — arguing that the formation threatens Slovak democracy. The general prosecutor filed a motion to have the party dissolved.
“The programme and activities of this extremist party with fascist tendencies violate the constitution, law and international agreements,” the prosecutor’s spokeswoman, Andrea Predajnova, told Reuters.
People’s Party, whose leader Marian Kotleba is an open admirer of Jozef Tiso, who ran Slovakia as a Nazi satellite state during World War II, won about eight percent of the vote — and 14 seats — in last year’s parliamentary elections. The party is currently polling at around 10 percent.
If People’s Party is dissolved, it will be the second time Kotleba suffers electoral dissolution; his Slovak Brotherhood party was broken apart in 2006 for violating the constitution.
But if it isn’t, Kotleba could use this incident as ammunition going into this autumn’s regional elections. And if he does, People’s Party, who calls the Roma minority “gypsy parasites” and is openly critical of both the European Union and NATO, could make for anything but “boring” elections.
“Let’s stop supporting the narrative of the EU and NATO being on the verge of a terrible irreparable breakdown,” Kiska pleaded on Friday. “Let’s stop seeing the need for revolutions and radical solutions when in fact what we need is old-fashioned politics and sober policies.”
Whether his country’s Supreme Court agrees — or thinks banning a fascistic party led by a Nazi fanboy is the surest route back to sobriety — will soon be seen.
Photo credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images