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Press digest

He bet on the wrong horse

"In the past few weeks and days, HZDS chairman [Vladimír Mečiar] has been placing his bets on an imposture. The HZDS [election] billboards are spread around hospitals and post offices, and he has imposed as well on popular singers and well-known celebrities, and even on children. The HZDS's activities at the opening of the school year were nothing but disgusting bootlicking. This is becoming more and more apparent to the Slovak voter, especially to those who remain undecided. It's more and more evident that Mečiar has bet in these elections on the wrong horse, one that will not be able to carry him back to his current position. It is beginning to gallop the other way - towards the distant horizon of political oblivion."
Števo Rimaj, SME, September 4

They lie and lie

Politicians are able to promise voters anything under the sun in the pre-election period. Citizens have already grown accustomed to this, and take most claims with a pinch of salt. Clear lies and unequivocal facts cannot be reconciled, even in the case of complicated problems like unemployment. Government representatives have repeatedly and explicitly lied about the growth of unemployment, the most recent occasion being an interview published on [September 4] in which Katarína Tóthová, vice-chairman of the government, convincingly stated that unemployment had fallen from some 16% to the present level of around13%. "Slovakia is a country where unemployment has steadily and gradually fallen," said Mrs. Tothová.
There is an old saying - a lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth - and in order to set the record straight, let's just have a look at the official statistics provided by the National Labour Office. In December 1994, when the current government took office, unemployment stood at 14.6%. According to the most recent figures, July unemployment stood at 14.1%. If the government had not changed the method of calculation of these figures in December 1997, the July rate would be 14.9%. In July, there were 388,541 people out of work in Slovakia, which is the highest figure since 1990.
Vladimír Tvaroška, Pravda, September 5

Corruption and the political background of the "Markízagate" affair

If someone wanted to talk about the political background of the Markízagate affair, logically he would have to begin with the question of who stood to lose and who stood to gain from changes in the leadership and influence on private television? The answer is simple and the sequence of events really gives rise to the suspicion that some political circles are prepared to do anything to hold or ultimately increase their influence on the media during the pre-election period. In other words - the political background is clearly only the quiet and pitiless fight between two opposition parties for a dominant influence on opposition television...One opposition analyst shocked the public when he said that the SDK wouldn't be able to defeat [Slovak PremierVladimír] Mečiar. Maybe their leaders also realized this and were trying at least to defeat the SOP, which is dangerously close on their heels...many people in the SDK would be very happy if Mr. Rusko left Markíza. SDK would then get a lot more [programming] space than they have enjoyed until now.
Slovenská Republika, September 5

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Although President Andrej Kiska repeatedly refused to ink the amendment to the law on religious freedom and the status of religious communities, it will become valid as of March 1.

President Andrej Kiska, illustrative stock photo