YOU REALLY have to feel sorry for the ‘ä’. It sounds exactly like the ‘e’. There are only a few countries where you will find it on a keyboard. And even in Slovak, it’s only used in a handful of words such as päta (heel), púpä (flower bud), holúbä (small pigeon), svätý (holy) or hovädo (derived from ‘cattle’, but meaning an arrogant idiot). And now it has lost its best chance of prominence in a long time.

When former interior minister and ex-Christian Democrat Daniel Lipšic decided to call his new party Nová väčšina (New Majority), and use the first two letters of each word as an acronym (as the colours in the logo suggest), fame seemed certain.

But in a shocking turn of events, the result is ‘Nova’. Where did that ‘a’ come from? Its sudden appearance probably has something to do with Lipšic’s two traits. One is his admiration for all things American. As justice minister he introduced the three strikes and out rule for repeat offenders. He now wants judges and prosecutors to be elected by the public, something not common in Europe. All of these are legitimate ideas. But does the ‘ä’ really have to go as well?

The other reason why we have Nova instead of the much more poetic Novä, is Lipšic’s tendency to write new rules – he plans to draft a new constitution and talks of introducing a new morality into public life. Well, it seems new grammar is on the list as well.

It’s still too early to say what the new party will bring to Slovak politics and predict its success. For now, Lipšic’s talk of a new majority seems like the “ä” trying to beat the “e”.