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Right-wing parties in Central and Eastern Europe are winning elections— and using their new power to undermine national institutions


MARIAN KOTLEBA used to wear a uniform modeled on the militia of Slovakia’s wartime Nazi puppet state. He opposes Western democracy, the European Union and NATO. He rails against the Roma people and openly admires Jozef Tiso, the Catholic priest and wartime leader who permitted tens of thousands of Jews to be deported to Nazi death camps.

In the post–World War II era, European politics have seen a long series of extremists, generally raging on the sidelines and creating a lot of noise while wielding limited power. But Kotleba, the leader of the extreme-right People’s Party-Our Slovakia, is no longer confined to the fringes. More than 200,000 people voted for his party in elections on March 5, including 23 percent of first-time voters, giving it 14 seats in the 150-member parliament.

Kotleba’s triumph—the party was previously unrepresented in parliament—shocked many people in Europe. Slovakia was supposed to be one of the European Union’s success stories. The country split off from Czechoslovakia and became independent in 1993. In recent years, it has joined the eurozone, enjoyed healthy economic growth—3.7 percent in 2015—and has increased consumption and foreign investment.

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What If He Wins? As president, would Donald Trump be a fascist? A reformer? A savior? A buffoon? Probably a bit of all that, but much closer to Jimmy Carter than Adolf Hitler, Newsweek asks the question!