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EDITORIAL

Time for Csáky to finally move out of the spotlight

POLITICS, especially in countries where coalition governments are the norm rather than the
exception, often seems to have little to do with improving the lives of the common people and more to do with
squeezing a few more percentage points out of the opinion polls.
This summer has seen the coalition bickering and points-scoring reach boiling point, which could lead to the
collapse of the coalition in the autumn. It seems like a good time to pour oil on troubled waters.

POLITICS, especially in countries where coalition governments are the norm rather than the exception, often

seems to have little to do with improving the lives of the common people and more to do with squeezing a few

more percentage points out of the opinion polls.

This summer has seen the coalition bickering and points-scoring reach boiling point, which could lead to the

collapse of the coalition in the autumn. It seems like a good time to pour oil on troubled waters.

Enter Pál Csáky, stage-right. The deputy prime minister for European integration, deputy leader of the

Hungarian Coalition (SMK) and all-round bungler, has once again shown his skill as a politician in raising the

issue of minority rights, an issue that is unlikely to smooth the current tensions between the ruling parties.

Of course, it is not his fault, as usual. The proposal has been made by the Council for National Minorities, which

Csáky happens to chair. He was quick to distance himself from press reports surrounding the council suggestion.

And the details? The council wants to extend the right to use a minority language in dealings with officials to

communities where 10 percent of the population speaks that language, a shift from the current threshold of 20

percent (that the council opposed in 1999).

In itself the proposal is quite reasonable and would only add 150 communities to the 500 that pass the current

threshold. The majority of those are areas where the Roma language would then be able to be used.

It is unlikely to add any real burden to the administration, as most members of the currently entitled communities

do not make full use of their rights anyway. The proposed legislation would have a minimal effect in practice but

would cause major political upheavals as it did in 1999.

At that time, the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) collected almost half a million

signatures on a petition to hold a referendum on reversing the Law on Minority Language Use. President Rudolf

Schuster refused to hold the referendum on constitutional grounds.

Csáky's, sorry - the council's, proposal would not drastically change the lives of many of Slovakia's population

in itself, but it could dangerously add to the current instability for the coalition. It would have been much better

to let sleeping dogs lie and attempt to push the proposal through at a time when the government is in a stronger

position.

In September, there will almost certainly be a vote of confidence in the deputy prime minister; perhaps it would

be wiser for him and his party if Csáky took the summer break as a good opportunity to leave the national

political stage before he is written out of the script.

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