Far-Right Slovak Party Jumps to Second Place in Opinion Poll

(Bloomberg) -- Slovakia’s far-right People’s Party jumped to the runner-up spot in an opinion poll as next month’s presidential election has put a spotlight on its leader, who has praised the country’s World War II Fascist leadership.

The People’s Party would win 11.7 percent of the vote if general elections were held this month, according to the Feb. 21-26 poll from the Focus agency published on Thursday. It was second after Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini’s Smer party, which had 21.2 percent. Support for the People’s Party rose by more than 3 percentage points from January, when it ranked fifth.

The party won seats in parliament in 2016 for the first time and is currently under investigation for spreading extremist ideology. Its chairman, former high school teacher Marian Kotleba, is running for president. Known for once wearing Nazi-like uniform at campaign events, he’s not expected to advance to a runoff ballot scheduled for March 30.

Slovakia’s political scene has been in turmoil since the murder of an investigative journalist last year that triggered the largest anti-government protests since the fall of Iran Curtain. It also forced out then Prime Minister Robert Fico, the founder of Smer. The three-party coalition would lose a majority in parliament, according the poll.

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