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Reader feedback: The new Mečiar

Re: "Robert Fico: If speaking the truth is populism, then I want to be a populist", By Martina Pisárová and Tom Nicholson, Vol. 8 No. 28, July 22-August 4

If, as some people, including me, have speculated, Fico is the new generation version of Mečiar (which could easily make him worse, because he is more sophisticated, therefore able to trick more people more easily), and if it is probable he has made a deal with the devil to gain power, then wouldn't you say that "giving him a chance" could again damage Slovakia?

I have met Fico, I have heard him make a speech to university students in English, and because I was initially impressed by him, I did more research into where he came from. The more I read, the more I listened, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized his smooth-talking style had suckered me, and I needed to think about what lay behind his vote-hustling words to see what he really wants.

The result for Slovakia of a Fico victory would be virtually the same as a Mečiar (Fico's godfather) victory - Slovakia going backwards as fast as it can.

The important question is where does that leave a voter who truly wants to integrate politically, culturally, and socially with his neighbors? A voter who would like to see Slovakia participating fully in European institutions and life, and not find himself, again, pushed back into the third world swamps Mečiarism produced.

I think the only choice is returning a coalition headed by Dzurinda (who, yes, could be better, but he is the least rotten apple in a pretty stinky barrel), and give that existing coalition another opportunity to get the country on track. It shows stability, it shows Euro-thinking, and it shows that Slovaks can reject xenophobic populism and are not so easily tricked by sweet-talking (or heavy-drinking) demagogues.

Don Merritt

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