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PRESS digest: PRAVDA DAILY

News item: Smer party enjoys 45% support according to the latest poll.


Numbers without guarantees
By Dag Daniš


When Robert Fico decided to form a government with the HZDS and SNS, he reassured his MPs with a weather forecast: "We will take a beating from the media and the international community, but that will ensure that we are supported at home all the more, as a courageous martyr". Fico's forecast was dead on, and might even have been a little understated. Smer is above 40 percent support for the third month in a row.

These bombastic numbers confirm two things. First, the Fico government unquestionably has political legitimacy. The government that Mikuláš Dzurinda was trying to cobble together (the HZDS plus the three right-wing parties) would certainly not have had this kind of support.

Second, Smer has to be taken seriously as a large and strong party that will long play a dominant role on the political scene, even if its support over time is cut by half.

Fico's start in power truly invites respect, but this respect must be balanced against the party's political beginnings in 1999. Back then, Smer was a party based not on ideals or convictions but on entrepreneurs and one deserter from the [former communist] SDĽ party. Smer was in fact founded by privatizers and businessmen with problematic pasts: Vladimír Poór, Juraj Široký, Fedor Flašík...

Fico never managed to rid himself of their shadows. Recently even Vladimír Mečiar publicly reminded him of them. Fico may have managed to banish Flašík (who allegedly is to be paid off and shown the door), but the stronger players remain in the background. They were, are and will continue to be the greatest threat to Fico's future, because the fate of political parties in the final analysis is not decided by numbers, but by their internal quality, and their roots.

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