Saturday, May 18, 2024

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The Smer party and its ally Hlas have been suspended by European socialists.


On Thursday, the Party of European Socialists suspended the Smer (Direction) party, led by Robert Fico, and the Hlas (Voice) party, led by Peter Pellegrini, who had recently announced their coalition government in Slovakia.

The press release stated that this action was taken due to the significant difference between the beliefs of the PES family and those of Smer-SD leader Robert Fico. Furthermore, there were concerns raised after the announcement of a government coalition between Smer-SD, Hlas-SD, and a far-right party.

The PES presidency declared the news one day after the two parties reached a deal to form a governing coalition in Slovakia, alongside the right-wing populist Slovak National Party.

The unexpected suspension of Hlas, which holds an associated membership in the PES rather than full membership, came as a surprise.

Stefan Löfven, the president of PES and former prime minister of Sweden, had threatened to expel Fico in an interview with Swedish media before the election due to its populist tilt. Smer was already temporarily suspended in 2006 after forming a government with the far right.

Pedro Marques, a socialist member of the European Parliament, previously stated that his party, the Socialists and Democrats, would work together with the larger PES group in the European Parliament.

The S&D has announced that their bureau will convene in Strasbourg on Tuesday to address the potential suspension of three Slovak members from the group. Their decision was sparked by the troubling statements and stances taken by the leaders of the SMER and HLAS parties on issues such as the conflict in Ukraine, immigration, the rule of law, and the LGTBIQ community. The group’s press release states that these views are not aligned with progressive values and have caused significant concerns.

Katarína Roth Neveďalová, a member of the Smer party in the European Parliament who participated in the discussions on Thursday, stated that she anticipated the verdict from the PES.

She stated that the Slovak National Party, who will be governing alongside Smer and Hlas, is not a radical right party, contrary to what the PES claimed. She expressed her hope to demonstrate that this statement was incorrect. The suspension involves an agreement for both Smer and the PES to engage in dialogue and discuss any differences between them, as stated by her.

Smer’s support increased by 23 percent in the September 30 election, while Hlas placed third with a 14.7 percent vote share.

The recent election of former Prime Minister Fico for a third term has caused concern in Brussels. He announced that Slovakia will no longer provide military assistance to Ukraine, voiced opposition to EU sanctions on Russia, and made discriminatory remarks against the LGBTQ community.

On its end, Smer states that it will persist in providing Ukraine with monetary and humanitarian assistance and maintains its dedication to EU and NATO accession.