SLOVAKIA needs an active president, a stable middle class and laws that are equally valid for all, one of the youngest of the presidential candidates believes. The Slovak Spectator interviewed Radoslav Procházka, who sees the combination of his young age and his experience in politics, as his main strength.

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Given the presidential powers, what priorities would you set out for your term in office and what would be the biggest challenge for you?
Radoslav Procházka (RP):
A strong president should, in the first place, protect people and be close to them. The basic motive of my efforts is thus changing the presidential office into a space where people can come to find support. In the name of the citizens, I will oversee the fulfilling of the government’s promises, open doors to Slovak businesses abroad so as to bring work to people at home, and I will move part of the presidential office to Banská Bystrica and Košice. My main priorities include the effort to improve the situation in the judiciary and to promote equality in front of the law, acting as an example myself. I also want to use the office to protect the independent control of institutions from political pressures. I consider drinking water and land to be resources with strategic importance for the future of Slovakia, and I will work to protect them properly.

TSS: The president is an important player in the area of foreign policy. What would your priorities in foreign policy and Slovak representation be? Where would you go for your first state visit?
RP:
I consider Poland to be a partner with extraordinary strategic importance for the overall development of Slovakia, and my first trip would thus be to Warsaw. I would however return via Prague, since tradition has its value too. The president can open doors to new jobs through active economic diplomacy. I want to use my years-long contacts and friendships with many important politicians from EU countries, eastern Europe and the US, to promote our interests.

TSS: How would you use the act of presidential individual pardons and amnesties?
RP:
The president shouldn’t have the power to grant amnesties at all. I would only use individual pardons in individual cases where the system fails and with great caution and respect to this possibility [to grant pardons].

TSS: The president can appoint three members of the Judicial Council. Would you use this power to change the presidential appointees in the top justice body?
RP:
Yes, one of my biggest ambitions is to put the judiciary in order, so that the laws are binding equally for all, and their enforcement is greater, so that citizens could again trust in public space and feel that if they are wronged, there is someone to stand up for them and they’ll be delivered their justice.

TSS: Judicial Council Chairman Štefan Harabin suggested that the Judicial Council could be chaired by the country’s president, like in Italy. Can you imagine yourself chairing this top judicial body?
RP:
I know the situation in the judiciary very well, I respect laws and justice, and I could chair the Judicial Council objectively and with authority. If the constitutional majority in the parliament approves it, I’m ready. But I am sincerely curious about the opinions of judges other than Chairman Harabin.

TSS: What do you consider to be the country’s biggest problems? What would you highlight in a state of the republic report?
RP:
Currently, I perceive a big problem in Slovakia to be inequality, be it inequality before the law, but also the widening gap between income groups. Society includes a wide middle group who pay taxes and respect the rules. But they are the ones that the state often “steps on” most gladly and most easily. Without a middle class, the whole society suffers, and that is proven everywhere where the middle class is perishing. I consider it key for the social peace in Slovakia that we are able to learn and prevent the mistakes that can be prevented. We need equality before the law and we need to effectively protect the freedom and dignity of people who live here and keep this whole state afloat.

TSS: What do you consider to be your main advantage and disadvantage in the presidential race?
RP:
I know the current system and nobody of the “old generation” can pull my leg. I have a knack for it. At the same time, I still have enough energy to change the presidential office into a space for active service to citizens.

Seemingly disadvantageous for me is the absence of a party and a sponsor background, because I’m really climbing a steep hill here. But it gives me independence and a chance to serve only Slovakia’s citizens in the presidential office.

THERE are currently 14 candidates in the presidential race scheduled for March 15. Ahead of the official election campaign, The Slovak Spectator requested interviews from the five front runners who top the polls, asking all of them identical questions about their strengths and weaknesses in the race, and their projects for the presidential term if they are elected.

The current issue features interviews with independent candidate Radoslav Procházka and Pavol Hrušovský, the official candidate of the People’s Platform. The next edition will feature interviews with Andrej Kiska and Milan Kňažko, both independent. Prime Minister Robert Fico, the official candidate of the ruling Smer party, declined the request, citing his busy schedule as the main reason.

Kiska, Procházka (both running as independent), and Hrušovský responded to The Slovak Spectator’s questions via email. Independent candidate Kňažko spoke with The Slovak Spectator over the phone.

The list of candidates also includes: businessman and civil activist Jozef Behýl; co-founder and former member of the KDH Ján Čarnogurský; member of the Party of Hungarian Community (SMK) Gyula Bárdos; cardio-surgeon Viliam Fischer; scientist Milan Melník; Mayor of Rimavská Sobota Jozef Šimko; former ambassador to Argentina Ján Jurišta; MP for the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) Helena Mezenská; and chair of the Coalition of Citizens of Slovakia Stanislav Martinčko.

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