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Disgraced Slota hangs on to job

Sometimes it seems as though there is nothing Ján Slota, the leader of the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS), won't say.
The 'enfant terrible' of the Slovak political scene has been quoted over the past few weeks ridiculing his own female party colleagues as hard-up old maids who are in politics because they can't find men. Spotted often with a face flushed with alcohol, he has also been seen urinating in public as a Slovak police officer companion allegedly wet his pants simultaneously.
But though Slota's increasingly troubled outbursts appear to be hurting both his own popularity and that of his party, it now looks as though he will survive in the SNS top chair at least until the end of September, when the party's next national congress will be held.


Slota's behaviour has coincided with a precipitous drop in SNS support.
photo: TASR

Sometimes it seems as though there is nothing Ján Slota, the leader of the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS), won't say.

The 'enfant terrible' of the Slovak political scene has been quoted over the past few weeks ridiculing his own female party colleagues as hard-up old maids who are in politics because they can't find men. Spotted often with a face flushed with alcohol, he has also been seen urinating in public as a Slovak police officer companion allegedly wet his pants simultaneously.

But though Slota's increasingly troubled outbursts appear to be hurting both his own popularity and that of his party, it now looks as though he will survive in the SNS top chair at least until the end of September, when the party's next national congress will be held.

Though the party meeting was originally set for June 26, party officials said they postponed it until the time when they felt public concern about the country's economic problems would reach a pinnacle.

"The SNS, as an opposition party, can make a stand then against steps of the government which have a negative impact on Slovak citizens," said party spokesman Rafael Rafaj.

But Slovak media widely reported suspicions that one of the main reasons for the postponement was to give Slota a little time to clean up his act. Slota, they reported, might be concerned that his recent outbursts in public might mean an end to his five years of leadership.

One of the most notorious recent incidents involving Slota look place at a March opposition party rally in the northern Slovak town of Kysucké Nové Mesto, when Slota lashed out at ethnic Hungarians and accused them of attempting to transform Slovak culture.

"We Slovaks want to ... learn the prayers in Hungarian? No way! We'll get into tanks, and we'll go and flatten Budapest. [Slovak] boys will fight for every square meter. We won't give a single square centimeter to those Hungarian bastards!" he shouted. He later confessed to media that he wasn't sober at the event, but stressed that what he had said "were my inner feelings."

On June 17, the daily newspaper Nový Čas published an anonymous eye-witness account of a drunken exploit near the Budúcnosť Bar in which Slota allegedly urinated off a balcony next to a man who urinated in his own pants. In response to the allegations, Slota denied the incident and said he planned on suing the paper for one million Slovak crowns.

"If I go somewhere as a normal guest in the afternoon, I think nobody should care about it. And if I drink, I pay for my own drinks," he said.

Slota alleged at a June 21 press conference that the report was part of a discrediting campaign against his person before the planned party congress. "The media, who work for all these different Freemason pacts and acts, wanted to put me into the light of horror as an alcoholic and an amoral man," he said.

An infuriated Slota then struck back after HZDS deputy Oľga Keltošová condemned Slota's misdemeanour, saying he "should seek doctor's assistance, because alcoholism is an illness". Slota replied that if he and Keltošová underwent liver tests, "someone else's liver would surely be much more damaged by alcohol than mine."

Slota also roughly insulted his party mates, Anna Malíková and Eva Slavkovská, who admonished him last week "not to make his personal tragedy turn into a tragedy of the whole party." In response, Slota called both of his female colleagues "unsatisfied old maids who were not able to get married and give birth to Slovak boys and are trying to find some satisfaction in politics, which they do not understand anyway."

Spilling the beans?

Slota is currently the member of parliament who serves as the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee to Oversee the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS). But Defence Minster Pavol Kanis expressed his concern about Slota's posting June 20, saying he believed Slota was revealing confidential information.

SDK deputy Roman Kováč said the ruling coalition would discuss recalling Slota from the post "by the end of June."

"Someone who is losing his ability to control himself cannot work in a position where he has access to confidential information," Kovač said.

Regardless of whether he loses the parliamentary post, political analysts said that Slota's lack of control is having a definite negative influence on SNS public support, which might influence the party to remove him from his leadership role.

Despite the fact that the SNS party has attracted a stable support base of 7-8% of the electorate over the past three years, Slota earned a mere 3% of the votes in the May 15 first round of the presidential ballot.

"Presidential elections showed that [Slota's] own voters punished him for his words in Kysucké Nové Mesto and for his behaviour at the round-table discussion of presidential candidates," said Michal Ivantyšyn, analyst with the Institute for Public Affairs, referring to an pre-election incident in which Slota appeared drunk on Slovak Television and lashed out at the speakers and station's management.

"Not even the majority of SNS supporters voted for him," he said.

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