According to the experts, presidential candidates do not have many chances to influence the election results in a significant way by the presidential campaign. They also agree on the fact that unless Rudolf Schuster makes a crucial mistake in the coming days, he is the most likely to win the election. But it can be claimed that the hot favourite's political speeches represent the main danger for him.
It seems as if Košice's mayor is the only person to whom Mečiar's comeback to the political ring is a surprise and that he is the only person who can not psychically get over it. He seems unable to get hold of his convincing, dynamic voice or the courage that was characteristic for him when founding his Party for Civic Reconciliation (SOP), when he headed for his aim despite the various hits below the belt by others. By achieving decent election results for the SOP, even though they were not as good as he might have expected, he contributed to political strength of the ruling coalition in the National Council of the Slovak Republic.
The then pro-active leader of the SOP has been in these days unbelievably defensive and oversensitive. He has been wasting the significant part of his mental and evidently also physical strength on defending the hard-to-defend allegations [of criminal fraud and privatisation related crime] against [SOP] MPs [ Imrich ] Sládecek and [Igor ] Presperín, instead of allowing them to be treated like ordinary citizens before the law.
By emotional speeches and to some extent also by threatening a change in the future role of the SOP in ruling coalition, he tries to achieve the coalition's unity of opinion about his presidential candidacy. Through political and moral appeals, he does all he possibly can do to achieve a change in the opinion of those coalition politicians who evidently sympathise with other candidates.
Schuster should rather concentrate more on his potential voters. The institution of democratic centralism fortunately does not function any more, and neither does, in this case, the mechanism of party discipline. The citizens decide independently, depending on their own consideration and political sympathies, instead of at the order of the party leader.
Mečiar's comeback simplified the possibility of choice, which will probably influence the attitude of voters preferring the independent candidates. This fact has been realised by the Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), as in their campaign they have been purposely concentrating not only on strengthening the trust of their symphatizers, but also on persuading hesitating voters.
Rudolf Schuster can avoid making a crucial mistake only by an aggressive and positive conclusion of his campaign, during which he also needs to work on convincing indecisive voters of the vitality and social utility of the values that he wishes to offer.
Translated by Lucia Kubošová
3. May 1999 at 0:00 | József Szilvássy