Resentments Fester in Slovakia’s ‘Land of Nothing’

Some days Adrian Lachata ponders how life would have turned out if he had never left Svidnik.

The 32-year-old engineer would not have graduated from the most prestigious technical faculty in the Czech Republic, where he has lived for the past 11 years since moving from the industrial town in Slovakia's northeast where he grew up.

EU Election Ignites Extreme Passions in Slovakia

On an unusually brisk afternoon in May, European flags fluttered alongside anti-fascist banners in Bratislava's old town on the banks of the Danube.

Demonstrators were protesting a meeting of European far-right parties in the Slovak capital ahead of this month's EU elections.

"Freedom is more than a nation," one placard read. "Fascists, entry forbidden," said another.

Central Europe’s Populists Struggle to Repeat Orban’s Winning Formula

Babis' pragmatic - or hypocritical - approach to the EU looks likely to serve him well when Czechs vote May 24-25. Polls suggest his party will come first with about 25 per cent of the votes.

This result is all the more remarkable, given that this essentially one-man party has no real ideology, or content in terms of policies.

‘It’s Up to Us’: Slovak Voters Wake Up to EU Elections

But it speaks also to the growth in popularity of right-wing populists, and an emerging battle for young voters.

'New trend'

Slovakia appeared to strike a powerful blow against the populist surge in Europe with the election in March of progressive political newcomer Zuzana Caputova as president.