>Fico’s SMER more acceptably unacceptable, say European Socialists

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Meanwhile, the Party of European Socialists (PES) has ruled on the status Slovakia’s SMER, suspended from PES for entering into coalition with the far-right Slovak National Party last year. Robert Fico’s party is still not welcome back into the PES fold, but the reasons for its continued suspension has subtly changed in a way that basically vindicate’s Fico rationale for entering into such an alliance. PES chair Poul Nyrup Rasmussen is cited by Sme as saying that the Fico government’s policies accorded with the social-democratic line of PES – indeed EUX reports one German SPD leader as effusing over the ‘the great progress and stable policies carried out by our Slovak friends’ which ‘stand with the highest European level financially, economically and socially’ . PES also seems to accept that SNS had had no substantial influence on Slovak government policy. PES was, however, still worried by ‘xenophobic voices’ from within the government, the loudest and most raucous of which, naturally, belongs to long-time SNS leader Jan Slota – so SMER remains suspended until a further review in February.

SMER and Fico are predictably fuming in public. But broadly, the upshot is rather favourable for the Fico view. It is seemingly OK for a European social democratic party into enter a coalition with the extreme right soprovided it is effectively managed and reasonably soft-spoken. Doubtless there is a deal of pragmatism here. PES has a strong incentive in retaining a strong governing party as its Slovak partner and probably feels that will retain more leverage with Fico in, than out. But, how long before Socialists in Bulgaria, Romania or elsewhere try Slovak model of respectable (more or less) red-brown politics? The Party of European Socialists website, meanwhile, seems to have nothing to say on the subject. It last news item is dated 2nd October.

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