Marian Kotleba
Marian Kotleba has railed against the EU, immigrants and the country's Roma minority Getty

The election of 14 candidates from Marian Kotleba's ultra-nationalist People's Party – Our Slovakia, to the country's parliament has shocked observers.

It is not the first time the first time Kotleba has made headlines in recent years, with support for the far right surging in the eastern European state, and both centrist and extremist parties using virulently anti-immigrant rhetoric in the run-up to the election.

In 2013, Kotleba was elected as governor of a region in central Slovakia, reportedly taking down the EU flag from the Banska Bystrica municipal town hall shortly after taking office.

A fervent admirer of the country's wartime collaborationist government, Kotleba was in the past fond of wearing a uniform modelled on that of the Hlinka guard, which acted as enforcers for the pro-Nazi govermnment of Jozef Tiso. In 2003, the government banned Kotleba's Slovak Solidarity party for inciting racist violence.

However in recent years Kotleba has attempted to soften his image, ditching the jackboots and Neo-Nazi rhetoric and exploiting fears of mass immigration and hostility to the EU in depressed regions of the country. Popular as well are his attacks on the country's sizeable Roma minority, who he has described as "parasites".

Some observers believe that the cynical anti-immigrant rhetoric of Prime Minister Robert Fico is partly to blame for the Kotleba's success, helping to bring views which were once the preserve of the political fringe into the mainstream. Fico's leftist SMER party warned in the run up to the election of an "invasion" of Muslim immigrants that would overwhelm the country and proclaimed in a recent speech the country had been "established for Slovaks, not for minorities".