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European socialists continue to exclude Slovak ruling Smer

The leadership of the Party of European Socialists (PES) decided in Brussels Thursday against bringing Smer, Slovakia’s senior ruling Social Democratic party, back to its ranks, CTK news agency reported.

“No one at PES is against Smer returning to the socialist family but there are certain details that we have to finalize,” SITA news agency cited Austrian Member of the European Parliament Hannes Swoboda as saying. The European socialists suspended Smer’s membership in late 2006 as the party, led by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, has formed a ruling coalition with parties chaired by two rogues of post-communist Slovak politics - former authoritarian premier Vladimir Meciar and nationalist Jan Slota. Neither of them were given a post in the cabinet, though, and the populist Slovak premier has so far kept them under a tight rein.

However, the coalition’s treatment of Slovakia’s 500,000 strong Hungarian minority has been closely observed during its 15 months in power, and the relations between Slovakia and Hungary have been repeatedly strained over minority-related and nationalist issues. The party’s membership status would be reviewed again before February, CTK reported.

A Prague meeting of Social Democratic leaders from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia held on September 14 was seen as a breakthrough for the Slovak premier. “I am very pleased by the great progress and stable politics carried out by our Slovak friends,” German SPD leader Kurt Beck then said. “Their politics stand with the highest European level financially, economically and socially.” “I hope any punishment meted out to our party will now end,” Fico then told CT24 news channel. (