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GUEST COLUMN - THE MAPLE LEAF

Slovak politicians should not be let out on the streets

I know several airline pilots personally, and they are interesting people. Composed, highly-trained and responsible. They have told me how demanding their training was and how often they get tested, checked and monitored. No surprise - they are responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers, and what's more, they can't permit an expensive plane carrying many people to be piloted by someone who is either unstable, impaired or ill. It's logical.

What isn't logical, however, is the fact that an entire country [Slovakia], which is also worth a lot of money and in which many people's lives are endangered every day, has been blithely put in the hands of people who haven't even passed a test on a fork-lift. As we have seen, even though Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar is gone, there are still enough people in the parliament and the government who shouldn't even be given permission to walk on the street, in order that they don't threaten animals and kids.

A female member of parliament and a town mayor, who incites national ethnic disunity and longs for a fascist regime. The boss of a political party who provokes international military conflicts. A senile ideologue who, while the entire country drowns in shit, says that it's only a matter of temporary breathing problems, a lack of self-confidence and too much openness, caused by sneaky influences from abroad. A spaced-out lawyer. A mentally incompetent scribbler, who mixes up Baghdad with Damascus. The organiser of kidnappings. A drunken loser, who shows his deputy's pass after a car crash and claims his luxurious villa fell from the sky... All politicians who know that the country is in an economic sewer, that its tax revenues are at a historical low and that unemployment is at an all-time high, but who have an orgasm when they send a soldier and a couple of quail eggs into space. No one can tell me that we couldn't have made a better trade with the Russians, because even if there had been no trade, it still would have been better (it's interesting that we paid the Russians cash for oil - I'm afraid to know how much).

In spite of the fact that the money spent on Slovakia's candidacy for the 2006 Winter Olympics has already been wasted and should be forgotten, the number of Olympic Committee members has climbed from 10 to 17. Seven new gluttons who will hold meetings and do nothing but hand out contracts to themselves and their friends, take money, travel uselessly around the world to finally arrive at the conclusion that the Olympics will be held somewhere else, but that Slovakia has succeeded in making itself more visible.

A coalition which thinks that it comes from the word 'koala', and that it must therefore do nothing but sit in a warm place and vegetate. Deputies who have a parliamentary majority but cannot prevent parliament from looking like a nuthouse. Politicians who won elections under the banner of radical change but who then change barely a thing. A political party which organises and pays clubs of retired people to gather and illegally spread fascist and racist propaganda. Other political parties which do not call the police immediately to act against the people who violate the law in this way. Deputies who listen to a report showing how the Slovak secret service was abused and looted, but who don't initiate legal proceedings. Deputies who manage to unite regardless of their partisan feelings only when it comes to voting on their own perks, whether these are salaries or laptop computers.

Why should these people have immunity from prosecution? Why should they have advantages? Why should they be so handsomely paid? What have they done in life that gives them the right to special treatment? Why do we need, on top of all this, some kind of president who will solve nothing?

No more immunity, no big salaries, no special bonuses, no BMW's or specially-furnished apartments. Natural authority, wisdom, kindness, tolerance, vision, experience, perspective, empathy and sympathy, a preference for the public good over personal ambitions - these are the qualities that should be possessed by the people who have elected to direct the lives of their fellow-citizens... But maybe I shouldn't be so demanding - it would be enough if there were no thieves, liars and criminals in parliament.

I really don't know if democracy is something worth striving for, when it results in a situation we cannot change. Just as one well-fed liar from Arkansas, who has nothing more important to do than drop his pants for all comers, is laughing in the face of the American Congress, so do people with no character, virtue or conscience sit in the Slovak parliament. Do we not have a better system than democracy? For it is precisely thanks to democracy that not only will all deputies stay in the same positions, but that everything will change for the worse, as it has until now.

'Javorový list' (The Maple Leaf) is a weekly column by Slovak writer Peter Breiner that appears in Domino Fórum magazine. Breiner writes from his home in Toronto, Canada.

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