Viťazoslav Móric of the SNS.
Courtesy of SNS
Promoting its petition for the reimposition of the death penalty, the SNS invited visitors to sign the document under a dripping ferris wheel in a Bratislava amusment park, promising small gifts in return. Approximately 300 children, parents and curious onlookers lined up to add their names to the petition and put the party's cheap pens, stickers and key chains in their pockets.
"Get out of here, you kids," shouted a middle aged woman at a group of children who were stuffing their pockets with SNS 'gifts'. "You've already got enough of those pens, and I only have one. Go on home."
Beside an enormous BMW, the SNS set up a booth to pass out "pre-election goulash" for the knots of shabbily-dressed children who waited patiently for it to be served. Parents clutched mugs of free beer, hunching their shoulders against the rain.
The bizarre congregation was in fact a pre-election rally for the SNS, one of the three members of the ruling coalition government. No speeches were made, no fanfare was heard, no pizzazz was to be seen.
SNS vice-chairman Anna Malíková said that the low-key meeting was a part of a deliberate campaign strategy. "Slovakia is not America," she said, "and our Slovak voters don't care for a show. The SNS will not campaign for the elections in a showy style."
With a minimum of pomp, Education Minister Eva Slavkovská circulated among the sparse crowd, nodding and smiling and exchanging small talk with visitors. "We are going to hold three meetings in western Slovakia, that's enough for us," Slavkovská told The Slovak Spectator, but declined to explain why.
The party had thrown more of a bash the previous day, September 5, in the Bratislava suburb of Dúbravka, but had attracted only 80 people. SNS-emblazoned balloons and a Slovak folk band greeted visitors, as did a scowling group of teenage punks wearing 'anarchy' t-shirts.
The SNS representatives who spoke in Dúbravka were an impressive group - doctors, lawyers, university lecturers, psychologists and architects. But the crowd was restive, and when Slavkovská began a long speech on the previous four years in government, people opened their free beers, ate their free sandwiches and moved for the doors.
The few guests who remained heard Víťazoslav Móric, former SNS chairman, advance special SNS "solutions" to favorite SNS problems like that of "the gypsies - I have seen a [6 foot tall] gypsy taking a taxi and paying for it out of his social grants...The Slovak saying that 'he who doesn't work doesn't eat' is addressed to the gypsies."
After delivering himself of these comments, Móric turned his attention to education ("if it were up to me, I would close all Hungarian schools") and the EU ("if there is anyone who wants to enter the EU in 100 days, he must be very ill").
On tables scattered around the nearly-empty room, one could find copies of Slovakia's Catholic Newspaper, as well as manifestoes written by SNS vice-chairman Viliam Oberhauser. "If you don't vote SNS, the people who lead us will sell us out for a cup of lentils, and turn Slovaks into atheists and servants in our own house..."
The SNS, established in 1990, is considered a stable political party with a constant 8% level of support. During its election campaign, which officially began on August 16, the 60th anniversary of the death of Slovak priest Andrej Hlinka, the SNS has stressed the themes of christianity, anti-western and independent values.
14. Sep 1998 at 0:00 | Soňa Bellušová