SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Prezidentská kampaň

ANY ENGLISH-SPEAKER has a fairly good chance of understanding the meaning of the term “prezidentská kampaň”. Getting your head around the way local campaigns actually work, however, is a much tougher task - even for Slovaks.

ANY ENGLISH-SPEAKER has a fairly good chance of understanding the meaning of the term “prezidentská kampaň”. Getting your head around the way local campaigns actually work, however, is a much tougher task - even for Slovaks.

First on the list of absurdities is the election law. The campaign officially starts only two weeks before voting day. Since that is nowhere near enough, the presidential hopefuls do their best to circumvent the legislation. And so you see billboards on which MPs, party leaders, or current heads of state pretend not to be running for office, merely reminding you of their existence, merits and virtues. Why hasn’t anyone tried to have the law amended? Go figure.

Thanks to the incredibly confusing wording of the constitution, no one knows what would happen if someone received more than half of the votes cast in the first election-round. Do we have a winner? Is there to be a second round? We will have to cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

Then there is the substance and style of the campaign. That public broadcasters refuse to allow direct debates between candidates, replacing them instead with boring interviews with pre-defined questions, is a tradition. But this time it seems the private TV networks will not be able to organise a direct debate either, because the current president has – at least so far – refused to participate in one.

And then there is the creativity of the candidates. In her ads, Zuzana Martináková uses a Road-narrowing!” traffic sign to represent her rival Radičová. The symbolism remains to be explained. Martináková’s team has said they will not use celebrity endorsements. Why not? “Well, can you imagine Barack Obama using a celeb in his campaign?” was the response of Martináková’s election team.

Radičová had been watching the Obama campaign a little more closely. So much so, that she has virtually copied one of his ads.

Among the president’s more prominent supporters is a university professor who has been the subject of numerous reports in the Slovak media (including the Sme daily) because of his alleged harassment of female students. And with the president, just two weeks before the election, still unable to say whether or not he would post joint billboards with extremist Ján Slota, the picture is complete.

There may be many presidential campaigns. But there is only one prezidentská kampaň.

Lukáš Fila is the deputy editor-in-chief of Sme

Top stories

The referendum is said to protect traditional families.
Politics & society

Turnout key to referendum result

EVEN amid heated discussion about the content of a February 7 referendum targeting the constitutional definition of family, experts say the biggest test for supporters of the Alliance for Family (AZR) ballot initiative is whether turnout surpasses the required 50-percent quorum of eligible voters.

26. Jan 2015
One of the drugs to be withdrawn from pharmacies.
Business

Eleven generic drugs withdrawn from Slovak pharmacies

Slovak State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) on January 28 suspended the distribution of 11 generic drugs and withdrew them from the market.

29. Jan 2015
Krásna Hôrka Castle ablaze.
Culture & lifestyle

Reconstruction on Krásna Hôrka Castle continues

THE RECONSTRUCTION works on the Krásna Hôrka Castle, which was severely damaged by fire in 2012, continue in accordance with the plans, Judita Krajčiová of the Slovak National Museum (SNM) told the TASR newswire.

27. Jan 2015
Tom Nicholson
Opinion

Economy Minister Pavlis has to go

No one with such an obvious conflict of interest has any place in government.

30. Jan 2015