(Bloomberg) -- Slovakia’s ruling party came under fire for pushing through legislation with the help of far-right lawmakers, raising worries that extremist parties are moving closer to the center of power in the eastern European Union member.
Finance Minister Igor Matovic, who leads the biggest party in parliament, secured passage of a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) family-aid package with the help of six opposition legislators from a right-wing faction. The two junior parties in the governing coalition had broken ranks to vote against the bill -- and accused Matovic of throwing in his lot with extremists.
“This is legitimizing someone who should not be legitimized,” Juraj Seliga, a deputy belonging to a junior coalition partner, said after the vote.
Matovic, whose party took power in Slovakia in 2020 on an anti-corruption platform, denied that he cooperated with the far right People’s Party, which has had ties with neo-Nazi groups and celebrates Slovakia’s World War II fascist leader, Jozef Tiso. But the finance minister made overtures to the party to win support for the package, and later lauded the “pro-family” majority that approved it.
The maneuvering is the latest blow to the fractious coalition of Prime Minister Eduard Heger, who has struggled to hold the alliance together amid persistent infighting. The turmoil could be a boon to opposition leader Robert Fico, the former premier who’s plotting a return to power by bringing forward elections.
Fico, who’s opposed immigration, Covid vaccines and denounced the EU’s support for Ukraine, has made his own advances toward the far right, having mentioned the party as a potential coalition partner.
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