EDITORIAL

Gašparovič's adieu

IVAN Gašparovič is leaving the presidential seat that he occupied for a decade without any fond memories of the media, and he made sure everyone was made aware of this during his exit speech to parliament.

IVAN Gašparovič is leaving the presidential seat that he occupied for a decade without any fond memories of the media, and he made sure everyone was made aware of this during his exit speech to parliament.

“Most of the media are no longer an objective mediator of information and opinion, but far too often also its politicised manipulator,” said the 73-year-old Gašparovič just days before he was to become a former president. Citizens often aren’t informed but rather are influenced and misled and that development is heading towards a kind of ‘mediacracy’, he said.

Gašparovič, who will be remembered more for occasional foul language and slips of the tongue than for any significant contribution to the public discourse, indeed has been a frequent target of media criticism. If he happens to read the coverage of his departure from the presidential seat, that will likely only deepen Gašparovič’s convictions that journalists use their acid-pens when reporting on Slovakia’s third-ever president.

The media, rightly so, has a habit of reminding Gašparovič of his political roots. He was the right-hand man of controversial three-time prime minister Vladimír Mečiar and a frequent defender of Mečiar’s often indefensible policies. He split from Mečiar only after the boss scratched him from an electable position on the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia’s (HZDS) candidate list for the parliamentary elections in 2002.

Gašparovič’s departure from the HZDS was not so much guided by a genuine disagreement with Mečiar’s policies, but rather that of a damaged ego and thirst for public office – neither of which is a good reason for staying in politics.

The public did choose Gašparovič over Mečiar when the two faced-off in the second round of the presidential elections in 2004, imbuing him with trust that he did not deserve given his previous political performance. In fact, the most positive aspect of his presidency occurred right at the beginning: he prevented Mečiar from regaining a significant public post after 1998.

The way Gašparovič treated the case of Jozef Čentéš, who was lawfully elected by parliament to the post of general prosecutor but left un-appointed by the president without any substantial explanation, clearly showed the kind of political culture that Gašparovič nurtured: laws, rules and integrity mattered little when personal political gain was at play.

Gašparovič has never been an adept orator and the media often had a laugh at his slips of the tongue. This was particularly the case during his second term when he became a rather popular object of jokes on social media sites. But these would have seemed like minor issues had Gašparovič been able to live up to his promises of being an independent president and serving first of all the people of Slovakia.
“We are alone here, so I can say that I am practically a member, and my failure would be the failure of Smer,” Gašparovič commented on his prospects in the 2009 presidential elections during a Smer party meeting in Košice, according to a video recording published by the SITA newswire.

When The Slovak Spectator invited two notable political scientists to list some positive contributions Gašparovič has made to the presidential office, they struggled to come up with any.
Over the past decade the expectations from the public for the country’s president have sunk considerably low. So low that many merely hope that the head of state can call countries and organisations by their actual name and avoid diplomatic scandal. This is a rather sad commentary on a man who had been in politics for more than two decades.

With that said the expectations laid on the shoulders of Slovakia’s next president, Andrej Kiska, are high. Should he fail to meet these expectations the damage to the public trust will be considerably more serious.

Slovakia can no longer afford to waste years on the personal ambitions of individuals who treat the presidency only as a tool for staying close to power or conserving a poisonous political culture that has lingered for more than two decades now.

Here’s hoping that the presidency can again become an office that prioritises the public interest over personal or party interests.

Top stories

UPDATED: Report: Slovakia a finalist to host new car plant

SLOVAKIA and Poland are said to be the last two countries competing for a new unspecified car plant while final decision could be made in the summer 2015.

Monk seal, to be seen in a movie at Ekotopfilm/Envirofilm festival in Bratislava and Banská Bystrica

Countrywide events

Tips for events between May 22 and 31, including a concert of top four world/ethno music Slovak bands, a festival of environmental movies, days of architecture, an opera premiere, a literary festival, two markets of…

The TSS team in 2010: from left,bottom row: Jana Liptáková, Beata Balogová, Ján Pallo, Zuzana Vilikovská; top row: Donald Spatz, Tatiana Štrauchová, Marta Fukasová, Michaela Terenzani, Roman Král, Martina Mišíková, Dáša Košútová, Beata Fojtíková, James Thomson

More independent thought and self-confidence for Slovakia

The Slovak Spectator has been covering the development of Slovakia for two decades now. On the occasion of the celebration of its 20th anniversary it surveyed its founder, head of the Petit Press publishing house as…

Asian tourists in Bratislava

Bratislava tourists good for little more than a three hour tour

IN THE tourist season, the Slovak capital is frequently visited by tourists, including Austrians, Americans and tourists from Asia alike. But most stay just long enough for a brief guided tour, and coffee break…

MOST READ ARTICLES


  1. Drahovská kosa opened the season of scything competitions
  2. UPDATED: Report: Slovakia a finalist to host new car plant
  3. Many Slovaks still migrate for work
  4. Bratislava tourists good for little more than a three hour tour
  5. More independent thought and self-confidence for Slovakia
  6. 4 things to know when drinking in Slovakia
  7. Fine for child’s death lower than selling goods after sell-by date
  8. Countrywide events
  9. Levoča altar has been reconstructed to full splendour
  10. Blog: The state of Services for expats in Bratislava
  1. Volkswagen opens state-of-the-art body shop
  2. Many Slovaks still migrate for work
  3. Levoča altar has been reconstructed to full splendour
  4. Blog: The state of Services for expats in Bratislava
  5. Young Slovak scientists succeed at International Science Fair in Pittsburgh
  6. UPDATED: Report: Slovakia a finalist to host new car plant
  7. Slovak Božena minesweepers head to Nigeria and Bangladesh
  8. Slovakia will host ice hockey world championship
  9. Bratislava tourists good for little more than a three hour tour
  10. 4 things to know when drinking in Slovakia
  1. Many Slovaks still migrate for work
  2. Volkswagen opens state-of-the-art body shop
  3. 4 things to know when drinking in Slovakia
  4. Levoča altar has been reconstructed to full splendour
  5. Slovak Božena minesweepers head to Nigeria and Bangladesh
  6. Young Slovak scientists succeed at International Science Fair in Pittsburgh
  7. Russia's Sberbank considers leaving Slovakia
  8. Slovakia will host ice hockey world championship
  9. Blog: The state of Services for expats in Bratislava
  10. Slovak aid to Nepal remains grounded