SocDems in EP may suspend Slovak ruling party for a second time over refugee crisis
In a blog post for the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), Bernard Rorke, who teaches a course on "Roma Rights" at Central European University in Budapest, discusses the recent proposal from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) faction at the European Parliament to suspend Slovakia's SMER party from the S&D Group. Rorke says Gianni Pitella, President of the S&D Group met with Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico to discuss his attitude about the Syrian refugee crisis on 9 October and was quoted as saying the PM's position had embarrassed the "whole Progressive family".
Rorke asks why the S&D Group has not taken similar action over Fico's attitude toward Romani people in his country. The PM was recently quoted as saying: "After all, let's be honest, we aren't even capable of integrating our own Romani fellow-citizens, of whom we have hundreds of thousands. How can we integrate people who are somewhere completely else when it comes to lifestyle and religion?"
S&D Vice-President Tanja Fajon says the S&D Group stands for a European Union based on the principles of diversity, equality, fairness, freedom and solidarity and that “Robert Fico's recent comments show he not only does not support these principles, he actively opposes them.” According to Rorke, this should have been clear to the S&D Group years ago from Fico's remarks about Romani people and their actual treatment at the hands of his Government.
This not the first time SMER has been rejected by its European colleagues. Following its electoral victory in 2006 the party entered into a coalition with the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS).
SMER's membership in the Party of European Socialists (PES) was suspended in response. PES chair Poul Nyrup Rasmussen told The Slovak Spectator at the time that any ruling coalition with the extreme right was unacceptable to the rest of the membership.
SMER was readmitted to the PES in 2008. It was first established as a splinter group of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ) in 1999.
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