The Slovak Spectator would like to offer readers a short list of things that we think will happen next year, and with tongue firmly in cheek, a second list of silly news headlines that they probably won't see in 1998.
The fearless five:
1. Mečiar will win 1998 elections but lose power
The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) will get a larger share of the vote than the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK). However the HZDS, which has proven that it can cooperate with the Slovak National Party (SNS), will not be able to form a coalition government because the Social Democratic Left (SDL) will refuse to cooperate. The workers' party (ZRS) will not get enough votes to remain a legitimate party.
SDK 32 percent 50 seats
SDL 11 percent 19 seats
Hungarian Coalition 9 percent 14 seats
SNS 7 percent 11 seats
Others 4 percent ...
2. And the new president is...
No one. The post will remain empty after Michal Kováč's term expires in March, and will not be filled until after parliamentary elections in the autumn. But the absence of a president will not jeopardize democracy in Slovakia to the extent that some fear - the constitution has never really been much of an impasse to anti-democratic forces anyway. The president's powers, after years of feuding with the Prime Minister, have become largely symbolic.
3. Schuster becomes a joke
Košice is beaming with civic pride these days, and mayor Rudolf Schuster would just love to become a major player in national politics. But if he continues to bluster and bellow from eastern Slovakia, he will be shunned by the opposition and scorned by the coalition. And as a clincher, VSŽ Košice isn't impressed by him.
4. The crown will see a 12.5 percent devaluation
The Slovak crown will follow the Czech currency's downward trend, sliding to 40 Sk to the dollar by this time next year, although the devaluation will not be an official, administrative one.
5. Slovakia will win the bronze
The Slovak Olympic hockey team will win a bronze medal, thanks in part to the difficult preliminary round road they must travel to get to the regular round. Three early tough matches will unite them as a team, and give them quick wins against a cocky United States team and against Canada, whom they always play well. This will give them a good seed for the elimination tournament, where one win would give them a chance for a medal.
And on the other hand, 5 silly speculations...
1. Slovak olympic hockey team wins bronze: medal is withheld for "failing to fulfill political criteria."
2. One week after Vladimír Mečiar assumes the powers of the vacant presidency, Vladimír Mečiar, Jr. is kidnapped. Rumors of a "Bratislava Triangle" circulate widely.
3. Slovak Telecom is finally privatized...to Blažena Martinková, Mečiar confidante, for .05 percent of its book value. "It was all she had in her purse," explains the Prime Minister.
4. Alexander Rezeš turns over VSŽ operating capital and profits to the Košice mafia, citing religious persecution. "The Catholic Church got Drukos, now they're after me," he claims.
5. Television programs aired in Britain and Canada depict the wonderful idle life being led by Romanies in Slovakia. Bratislava braces for a tide of new immigrants and hastily issues visa restrictions on European Union and North American citizens.
18. Dec 1997 at 0:00