Archive for March, 2012
Slovakia is heading towards an early parliamentary election – to be held on 10 March – after its centre-right ruling coalition failed to reach a consensus on the eurozone bail-out funds.
Shortly after the government’s fall last October, it seemed that the EU affairs would finally dominate the pre-election campaign in the country of five million. What had never happened even before the vote of Slovak MEPs was about to come true: Slovaks would passionately discuss the pros and cons of the future EU’s fiscal treaty; they would see billboards with EU flags and quote economists on what is crucial for euro’s recovery.
As realists suspect, none of this has been the case. This time, however, not only for all the obvious reasons – the fiscal treaty is dull and hard to explain, the Slovak flag is more colourful and economic arguments are there just for a bunch of “busy and important” weirdoes.
In fact, there is one other issue that has made poor Slovaks even more furious than saving rich Greek pensioners, as some local politicians would put it. That is, corruption among local politicians. I mean Slovak politicians.
Locally, the new buzzword for corruption has become GORILLA after a secret file published on internet in late December 2011. The document allegedly reports various details of an operation conducted by the Slovak secret agency to record evidence of illegal links and contacts between businessmen and top politicians in 2005-6.
Back then, Slovakia was governed by the centre-right coalition of PM Mikuláš Dzurinda, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU-DS), up till now the leading centre-right party. But the Gorilla file has alleged that similar corruption practises have been in place for years and carried out by virtually all existing political parties.
After an early round of denials by concrete individuals mentioned– claiming that the monkey file is a piece of badly written fiction, more trustworthy pieces of information emerged and convinced the Slovak public that although a few details might be wrong, the document is a good description of the corrupt political system.
Realising this, Slovaks got really angry and took to the streets in numbers not seen since the collapse of communist regime in 1989. On the positive note, one could appreciate a wake-up impact on the local civic movement, especially among young people previously viewed as passive and apathetic.
However, as we were moving closer to the early elections with new secret files and videos coming out almost on the daily basis, there is a growing feeling of a powerful media game forced upon all of us – financed by new potential “gorillas” that are trying to get elected on the back of the old and disclosed ones.
And so the Slovak citizens (especially those of the centre-right views) are confronted with a serious dilemma, judging whether to vote slightly amateurish freshmen parties to punish the old corrupt ones; or grate their teeth and vote on the basis of political programmes; or ignore the elections altogether thinking politicians are all the same and thereby indirectly support those elected by fellow citizens.
According to most public polls, the ex-PM Robert Fico of the Social Democratic party (SMER-SD) is about to win by a landslide. He is expected to join in coalition with the Christian democrats (KDH) or the Slovak-Hungarian party Most-Hid. The current rightwing leader SDKU-DS may struggle to make it to the parliament with some surveys suggesting their public support has plunged below the 5-percent parliamentary threshold.
Slovaks are quite pessimistic on whether they will see the Gorilla case fully investigated and its key actors punished.
Instead, we could imagine that monkeys will give way to Europe again both in a public debate and political rhetoric: the new (social democratic) government will have to save around 1.5 billion euro in less than two years to meet the new EU fiscal rules.
Indeed, in post-election Slovakia, we will quite likely see anger and protests again. Probably more on the social and economic grounds and perhaps even on a larger scale. And this too will be very European in its most recent sense.