EDITORIAL

Wasting their breath:A tale of two parties

It's still just about two years before voters go back to the ballot boxes (assuming we don't have early elections), but politicians are clearly itching to hit the hustings, if one can draw any conclusions from the announcement this month that two new political parties are about to be founded.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with such ambition, but in these particular cases we have two more examples of failed politicians wasting their time on hopeless political enterprises. Slovakia already has enough of such political dinosaurs, just as it already has enough parties which don't represent any clear ideology save that of power to their founders.
Ján Budaj and Juraj Švec, whose Democratic Union (DÚ) party was recently crushed by Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda's SDKÚ juggernaut, have apparently decided that their country still needs them, and have announced the formation of the Liberal-Democratic Union.

It's still just about two years before voters go back to the ballot boxes (assuming we don't have early elections), but politicians are clearly itching to hit the hustings, if one can draw any conclusions from the announcement this month that two new political parties are about to be founded.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with such ambition, but in these particular cases we have two more examples of failed politicians wasting their time on hopeless political enterprises. Slovakia already has enough of such political dinosaurs, just as it already has enough parties which don't represent any clear ideology save that of power to their founders.

Ján Budaj and Juraj Švec, whose Democratic Union (DÚ) party was recently crushed by Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda's SDKÚ juggernaut, have apparently decided that their country still needs them, and have announced the formation of the Liberal-Democratic Union.

František Gaulieder, the MP who was booted out of parliament by Vladimír Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) in 1996 for daring to leave the party, now says (or at least doesn't deny) he is about to launch his own political vehicle, to be a party "slightly right of centre, with subtle elements of a social feeling".

Who is going to vote for these people? Gaulieder, for example, was a political nobody until Mečiar made a martyr of him; having now been out of the limelight for almost a year, given that his case against parliament has been settled, he is clearly looking for a passage back to the evening news, and couldn't care less if he gets there spouting rightist, centrist or 'social feeling' ideology.

And Budaj, who reached the summit of his political career over a decade ago shortly after the 1989 revolution - no one, clearly, has told him that his charisma is not sufficient to inflate the tired political project he has announced.

Personalities, rather than policies, still very much rule Slovak politics, and in failing to clearly define their parties or the need for them, Gaulieder, Budaj and Švec are simply following a trend begun by Dzurinda's former SDK. A bizarre mix of socialists, liberals and free-marketeers, the SDK was supposed to return to a five party coalition following the 1998 elections, but instead had its political assets stripped by the PM himself, who carted away its brightest stars to the SDKÚ.

But no matter who 'started it', it's high time that someone put an end to it and launched the kind of party Slovakia really needs - one that comes up with a logically consistent platform, tells voters exactly what it stands for, and then puts what it preaches into practice.

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