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EDITORIAL

Get lost, Claudia

German 'supermodel' Claudia Schiffer paid a visit to Slovakia on September 10, during which she helped Slovak Premier Vladimír Mečiar open a highway and impress voters with her indirect endorsement of his HZDS party. After babbling a few inanities about pretty Slovak castles, she climbed back on her plane, presumably many dollars to the good.
Claudia has over 20 sites on the Internet, but not one describes her as having a strong grasp of politics. So it's just possible that she didn't understand that in visiting Slovakia two weeks before national elections and touting for Mečiar, she was grossly interfering in another country's private affairs and promoting an autocratic ruler who has been criticized by her own government, among others.


Puppet Theatre. Slovak Premier Vladimír Mečiar unveils his new line of "Schiffer dolls" designed to assist at public events.
Collage from TASR photos by Slavomír Danko

German 'supermodel' Claudia Schiffer paid a visit to Slovakia on September 10, during which she helped Slovak Premier Vladimír Mečiar open a highway and impress voters with her indirect endorsement of his HZDS party. After babbling a few inanities about pretty Slovak castles, she climbed back on her plane, presumably many dollars to the good.

Claudia has over 20 sites on the Internet, but not one describes her as having a strong grasp of politics. So it's just possible that she didn't understand that in visiting Slovakia two weeks before national elections and touting for Mečiar, she was grossly interfering in another country's private affairs and promoting an autocratic ruler who has been criticized by her own government, among others.

It's equally possible that had she known the harm she was doing, she wouldn't have cared anyway. Claudia's web sites reveal that she has a $6 million, 4-year contract with Revlon, while fiancé David Copperfield made a cool $33 million in 1997. While Claudia may not have needed the $150,000 to $200,000 she reportedly made from her Slovak visit, she didn't get rich by turning down good money for easy gigs.

Claudia's web sites also present her as a member of the philanthropic group DISHES - Determined Involved Supermodels Helping to End Suffering. Based on her recent visit, Claudia seems more Determined to Help Embarrass Slovakia.

Celebrity endorsements of politicians are not unusual. Tom Selleck and Arnold Schwarznegger plugged Ronald Reagan and the Republicans in 1988, while Slick Willie Clinton's showbiz friends include Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand. During Campaign '98 in Slovakia, the HZDS has paid millions of crowns to Slovak entertainers to play at party rallies, while the opposition has paid slightly less to Slovak comedians and dancers to sell its political wares.

But Schiffer is different. For starters, she's not Slovak, and thus has no business taking the stage with any Slovak politician during an election campaign which could decide the country's future for decades to come.

She's also a famous model who commands an appearance fee that de facto requires that her political hosts break Slovakia's campaign spending laws. Her one-day visit cost Mečiar's party about half of the 12 million Sk it is allowed to spend during the entire campaign, but the HZDS leader insisted that the money had come from "a friend" rather than from party coffers.

Claudia Schiffer left Slovakia with her pockets full of gelt provided by HZDS "friends." She helped celebrate an infrastructure project which has plunged Slovakia deep into debt. She also helped the election campaign of a man who has been criticized constantly by western governments for his failure to implement democratic reforms. She managed to do all of this in one simpering 8-hour visit. We hope she never comes back.

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