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PRESS digest: SME DAILY

News item: Career academic and sociologist Iveta Radičová joins the SDKÚ party, and is expected to be made vice-chair at the party's upcoming congress.


Icebreaking
By Peter Javurek


The elections didn't bring only victory for Robert Fico and a change in government. They were also a step towards creating a dual political system in Slovakia, with the socialist Smer party dominating on the left side, and the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) on the right. The fact that this process is not as apparent as it was after elections is entirely the fault of the SDKÚ.

While Smer has entrenched its position and its popularity, within the SDKÚ it is as if time has stopped. The former prime minister clearly continues to see himself as the country's leader, and his party is presenting its election loss as a success. Voter support polls prove that this is not the path to renewing the party's leadership, as does the SDKÚ's difficult cooperation with the rest of the opposition. If the SDKÚ wants to play its role on the left-right spectrum created by the elections, it first of all needs to go through some self-reflection.

But it looks as if the ice is starting to break. News that unconvincing vice-chairmen like Juraj Liška, Pavol Prokopovič and Pavol Kubovič are to be replaced, and especially that Iveta Radičová has entered the party ranks, shows that the SDKÚ is beginning to understand what's at stake. The coming congress could be decisive not only for the SDKÚ, but for the entire opposition. It's not just that Radičová scored more 'preferential ballots' from voters than any other party candidate in the elections, because popularity is only one of the conditions for success in the party leadership. What she offers, however, is an ability to communicate with the public and the rest of the opposition in a way that is not freighted with past betrayals. A party that aims to lead an entire side of the political spectrum cannot afford to be isolated, even if it is the most popular (Mečiar paid for this in the past, and Fico may soon follow him).

Of course, for this process to be completed, it will not be enough for Radičová to become vice-chairperson of the party - she will have to replace Dzurinda. Does Radičová understand this? Does Dzurinda?

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