This week, the Slovak Information Service (SIS), one of the country’s intelligence agencies, allegedly labeled the Progressive Slovakia (PS) party as a left-wing extremist group, with the new making it as far as the English-language European news outlets.
Now, it turns out that the leaders of the minuscule radical leftist party are ruing the news story they helped spread in the first place.
The fake news, as it turned out to be, centered around the 2020 annual report released by SIS that states that “the activities of supporters of left-wing extremist entities in the Slovak Republic were focused primarily on criticizing and ridiculing the representatives of the Slovak right-wing extremist scene… One of the most visible activities of the left-wing extremist scene was the effort to disrupt public pre-election meetings of candidate representatives of right-wing entities in the elections to the National Council of the Slovak Republic.”
It is unclear whether it was an attempt to turn liberal outrage into artificial victimhood, or pursued as a calculated publicity stunt, but Irena Bihariová, leader of PS, took the above passage as a reference to her own party, and concluded that her political movement is being monitored by the Slovak intelligence services. The radical leftist party’s complaint was immediately registered in Brussels due to the fact that it has three MEPs in the European Parliament’s progressive Renew political group. In the Slovak parliament, they originally had no MPs, until a defector from another Slovak left-wing party, already in the parliament, joined their party.
Insignificant as they are, their alleged persecution by Slovak authorities could not be ignored by their Western ideological allies, as it would reflect negatively on one of the largest left-wing European groupings if they had an extremist party in their midsts. The EU and corporate-funded news portal Euractiv duly ran stories claiming “The liberal party and Renew Europe member Progressive Slovakia have been labelled as left-wing extremists in an annual report of the Slovak Intelligence Service published last week, representatives of the party claim.” The article has since been amended, but the all-too-useful victimhood narrative about progressive politicians being monitored and persecuted in the Visegrád Four political bloc is already out there.
Since then, SIS issued a statement stating that the reference did not refer to any particular party and that they do not monitor any of the major political movements. Furthermore, the Slovak progressives have been ridiculed for taking the reference in the SIS report as a de facto form of admitting that their own policies and activism belong to left-wing extremism.
Irena Bihariová, the leader of the party, had issued a statement, saying that “there is no doubt that the authors of the report talk about Progressive Slovakia, because they use in their description exactly the same descriptive characteristics that the extremist scene traditionally pronounces about Progressive Slovakia. This in itself is outrageous that they describe a kind of unnamed left-wing extremist entity in the vocabulary used by the fascists.”.
It is a common political tactic of the left and the media to label opponents or people who disagree with a progressive agenda as “fascists,” but Bihariová went as far as suggesting that the Slovak intelligence services should be dissolved for labeling them as extremists. The fact that she viewed the SIS intelligence report on leftist extremism and believed her own party fit the definition of extremists may have to do with the fact that her radical activists did indeed disrupt several pre-election political rallies of the nationalist Slovak People’s Party (LSNS) during the 2019 election campaign.
Commentators rightly point out that the Slovak progressives have shot themselves in the foot by protesting, because they did in fact behave as an extremist left-wing movement by disrupting the democratic parliamentary process. Among others policies, Bihari’s party is also calling for gender-neutral speech in government, is pro-migration, and is a passionate defender of “no questions asked” abortions.