Slovakia’s Far-Right ĽSNS Party: Saved by Its Perceived Irrelevance

Neither Kotleba nor Slovak Togetherness was a stranger to such rhetoric, yet the party never amounted to anything more than a marginal political force. It never came close to reaching 3 per cent of the vote in any parliamentary election, the limit parties need to exceed to be eligible for financial support from the state, not to mention the 5 per cent threshold to actually enter the parliament.

Eventually, the Supreme Court dissolved the party in 2006 because its programme violated the universal right to vote.

But that did not prevent Kotleba from continuing his political activities. He donned a suit instead of the fascist-style uniform he used to wear, and went on to found a new party, People's Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS). As its leader, he was elected the governor of the central-Slovak region of Banská Bystrica in 2013 and served the full four-year term. During his term, ĽSNS was elected to parliament in the 2016 election, then repeated the success in 2020, even though it faced an attempt by the state to dissolve it the year before.

Despite Kotleba's history, political success and a recent Supreme Court verdict that found him guilty of expressing sympathy with extremist movements, Slovakia's Prosecutor General Maroš Žilinka recently announced that, contrary to expectations, he would not be filing a motion to try to ban the far-right party again.

Explaining his decision on August 5, Žilinka argued that Kotleba's party was no serious threat to democracy.

"The political party has no real potential and opportunity to implement political changes that pose a threat to democracy," the Prosecutor General's Office stated.

Archive photo of a Slovenská Pospolitosť march, with a young Kotleba speaking, on the anniversary of the Slovak...

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