‘Slovakia: a victory for populism’

Right and left

Sir, – In your editorial on the recent elections in Slovakia you state that the victory of the Smer party of former prime minister Robert Fico “is testimony to the continuing robustness of support in member-states for populist and far-right parties” (“The Irish Times view on the election in Slovakia: a victory for populism”, October 2nd).

Surely you’re aware that Smer is in fact a left-wing party?

It was founded in 1999 as an offshoot of the Party of the Democratic Left, the rebranded Communist Party of Slovakia, and is currently affiliated to the centre-left Party of European Socialists (PES) of which the Irish Labour Party is also a member.

You also note that Smer’s most likely route to government is “a possible alliance with third-place Hlas”, but again fail to mention that this is also a party of the left and is itself an associate member of the PES.


It seems curious indeed to pepper an editorial about the election of a left-wing government with warnings about “ultra nationalist” and “far right” sentiment.

Your editorial is evidence of a curious trend in recent years whereby it is automatically assumed that racism, anti-Semitism, anti-EU and pro-Russian sentiment are the exclusive preserve of parties of the right.

In 2019, your newspaper called on Fine Gael and Leo Varadkar to support the expulsion of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party from the European People’s Party (EPP) for its “populist anti-immigrant rhetoric” . Can I take it that in the interests of consistency you will now also call on the Labour Party and its leader Ivana Bacik to support the expulsion of Smer and its allies from the PES?

Or is it the case that left-wing populism isn’t as bad as right-wing populism? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.