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PRESS digest: SME DAILY

"Shortfalls in political culture"
By Peter Schutz


Even though the topic of clientelism, nepotism and political nominations became a hot one following the accession of the Fico government, Slovakia has enormous room for growth in this discipline, as recent examples from Poland and Brussels show.

The Polish government has again been badly shaken, this time by charges against Deputy PM Lepper that he required sexual services from people who wanted to work in party offices. The first to say she had given such services was an MP from Lodz, but she was soon followed by others, some of who had refused the proposals. It is interesting that the case is being treated as one of sexual harassment, when in reality it is one of corruption, as it would be if Lepper and MP Lyzwinski had demanded not sex but 20 percent of the applicant's wages. Nevertheless, PM Kaczynski is defending Lepper, and is waiting for proof of the charges from the prosecution.

European Commissioner Gunter Verheugen is also facing calls to step down, after the Focus magazine threatened to publish photos of Verheugen walking naked on a beach with his girlfriend. The commissioner has said he can do what he likes while on vacation, but the problem is that in the meantime he made this woman the head of his office. Needless to say, this woman is not his wife, nor is she in the least related to his family.

Against the background of these events, we can see that Economy Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek is right to wonder what we have against his nominating his daughter's boyfriend to the Transpetrol oil pipelines company, given that he is not family, and that they were never photographed naked together.

The president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has come to Verheugen's defense with the statement that "it's his private matter". Sexual favours is truly one area in which Slovakia's political culture lags behind that of other countries.

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