Robert Fico's ad campaign for his Smer party, where he uses the symbolism of a box of laundry detergent representing Smer to remove the "stains" of the HZDS and SDK administrations, has the hallmarks of a skit that school-age children enjoy putting on. One can only conclude that Fico believes that Slovak voters are so infantile and bored with politics that they will flock to him simply because he made them laugh.
If this is what Slovak voters end up doing, then of course they will have found their man, and too bad for what might have been.
If instead one assumes that Slovaks are not this immature - and I think it is possible that a majority of Slovaks are actually older than Mr. Fico's 37 years - then there is still hope for the future.
Mind you, there is another way of looking at this detergent box. Having grown up in a family of chemists, I have learned how the chemical compositions of many products are one and the same. Mr. Fico would be surprised by how similar the chemical compositions are among all of the laundry detergents sold in the world, despite the artwork emblazoned on the boxes of the different brands or the perfumes that are added to the powders.
Regarding, therefore, Mr. Fico's Smer detergent as something "new and improved", seems to me a little like speaking about the difference between brands of spring water or milk. Perhaps rather than becoming fooled by trite symbolism, Slovak voters have enough experience now with the West's fetish with things "new and improved" which really aren't, to see that Mr. Fico is probably not so different a politician from some of those whom he wishes to succeed.
29. Apr 2002 at 0:00