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Communist Jača says dissidents happier in jail

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): How do you explain your recent increase in support, when you get so little coverage in the media?
Ladislav Jača (LJ): For a long time there has been an information embargo on our party. Slovak media are simply silent about us, even though the KSS has existed since 1992. Since then we have been trying in vain to get coverage on public radio and television.
TSS: Why should media give coverage to you as one of many non-parliamentary parties when even parliamentary parties have a tough time getting coverage?...


Jača says others fear the KSS.
photo: Ján Svrček

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): How do you explain your recent increase in support, when you get so little coverage in the media?

Ladislav Jača (LJ): For a long time there has been an information embargo on our party. Slovak media are simply silent about us, even though the KSS has existed since 1992. Since then we have been trying in vain to get coverage on public radio and television.


TSS: Why should media give coverage to you as one of many non-parliamentary parties when even parliamentary parties have a tough time getting coverage?

LJ: Because we're the strongest non-parliamentary party, and we have the largest membership, second only to the [opposition] HZDS, with 23,000 members, 20% of whom are 30 years old or younger.


TSS: But you're far less popular than the HZDS. Why?

LJ: Many more people support us than the polls show. People are simply afraid to admit that they want to vote KSS. Some people who have confessed have been fired from their jobs. And then there's that information embargo. You may be doing an interview with me now, but we'll see what your editor-in-chief lets you publish from it.


TSS: But polls like the latest one are anonymous, just like voting is in elections. What are your sympathisers afraid of?

LJ: In 1998 elections we could have easily got into parliament. Before the elections we had a press conference where the question was asked whether we felt closer to the [then opposition] SDK or the [then ruling] HZDS. The answer was: The lesser evil, in other words the HZDS. Society, just like the media, was very polarised, and the HZDS and SDK represented opposite poles. Our statement got most of the Slovak media against us, meaning that we also lost voters. In the actual elections, much of our electorate voted for the HZDS, as did many of our own members.


TSS: Why did the HZDS seem a closer partner?

LJ: Because they opposed the privatisation of strategic companies.


TSS: But in the past it was the HZDS which privatised most and began the 'capitalist wave' that you are fighting...

LJ: That's true, but it's always easier to take back a company that has been privatised to a Slovak than one sold to a foreigner.


TSS: The current KSS has never officially distanced itself from all the crimes committed under the Communists. Are you sure people will support you when your past is stained?

LJ: That's not true. We have apologised, particularly for the 1950s. We apologised despite the fact that we had nothing to do with the crimes of the 1950s. I'll ask you this - are the Christian Democrats [KDH] held to blame for the middle ages, for all the murders committed by the Inquisition? The KSS has a brief history, but only the 1950s were dirty. Who suffered in the 1980s?


TSS: How about political prisoners? At the time of the 1989 revolution many dissidents were in jail, such as current Justice Minister Ján Čarnogurský.

LJ: They were better off there than they were on the outside.


TSS: How can you say that? They were put in jail for thinking differently.

LJ: Come on, they were without their mummies for a few days and ate dry bread. What kind of dissidents are those?


TSS: Is the KSS the continuance of the old Communist Party, or is it offering something new?

LJ: Of course we're offering something new - our whole programme, and the fact we recognise the plurality of opinion. We're against NATO and for EU entry, but not in the way Slovakia is now doing it. We're trying to gain entry on our knees.


TSS: What is your view of totalitarianism?

LJ: That's a difficult concept. Recently, we were at a meeting with [Catholic] Bishop František Tondra, who rebuked us for the KSS's totalitarian governments of the past. At that moment I thought quietly to myself: "You of all people have no business shouting to me about totalitarianism! The Catholic Church is a global example of totalitarianism!" And the SDK has also created a totalitarian government in Slovakia. That's why so many of our sympathisers are afraid to admit that they are Communist in their souls. But believe me, they're everywhere, all around us.


TSS: How are you going to get these secret supporters to support you at election time?

LJ: They'll support us.


TSS: They haven't so far...

LJ: Now they will. But there's another problem - they keep deliberately raising the minimum percentage of voter support you need for representation in parliament, because they are afraid of the Communists. When the Communists broke the 3% support level, they raised the minimum from 3% to 5%; now the KSS is nearing 5%, and [independent MP Róbert] Fico wants to raise it again to 7%. They're afraid of us.


TSS: Are you serious?

LJ: Yes I am. Just imagine, 80% of the KSS's former members are sitting in parliament at the moment. And then imagine that real Communists would enter parliament and sit beside these turn-coat Communists. These turn-coats would have no more coats to turn, because they would be standing face to face with their former colleagues - real Communists.


TSS: The KSS needs another 0.5% of voter support to get into parliament. How are you going to get and keep these voters?

LJ: We're going to carry out our programme.


TSS: Anything else?

LJ: We don't have to do anything else.

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