RECENT weeks have shown that Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda is losing his ability to effectively communicate with the media, with his political partners, and most importantly - with the public.
Without doubt, his rhetorical skills and talent for getting key messages across to voters were among the reasons why, in 1997, Dzurinda became the spokesperson of the Democratic Coalition Party (SDK), a wide union of parties determined to oust the authoritarian Vladimír Mečiar from office and put Slovakia back on a pro-democratic and pro-Western course.
From spokesperson, Dzurinda went on to become the leader of the SDK, and finally prime minister.
Now, the media are becoming increasingly irritated by the fact the PM, known for his passion for complicated expressions, talks too much and says too little.
The Plus Sedem Dní weekly recently put together a story highlighting some of the types of phrases he uses when dealing with journalists.
"Mister reporter, although I take into consideration your displeasure, I also beg you to very carefully take into consideration my right to my specific answer," Dzurinda told a journalist who complained about the fact Dzurinda is too vague in his answers.
Or another example from that vein - "I like to express myself freely, in a manner that I deem appropriate. And today I deem appropriate such a manner that I don't feel the urge to comment on this issue."
These replies are amusing only until we realise that it is these types of answers Dzurinda gives when asked about very serious issues.
Some coalition politicians are now also voicing their objections to the way Dzurinda communicates with them.
On September 21, in an interview for TV Markíza, Ľubomír Lintner, the vice-chairman of the New Citizen's Alliance (ANO), who will fill the seat of deputy speaker of parliament, which ANO boss Pavol Rusko left vacant after he became Economy Minister, described an experience he had with Dzurinda.
Lintner said that he told Dzurinda at a meeting of the coalition council, a body comprised of the ruling parties' top representatives, that his style of politics is harmful to the coalition.
"In your case, it would be best if you just shut up," Dzurinda replied, according to Lintner.
Dzurinda's so-far unsuccessful effort to recall the head of the National Security Office, Ján Mojžiš, also proves a point: either there are no arguments Dzurinda can use to back his position, or these arguments exist, and Dzurinda has completely failed to explain himself to coalition partners.
The same is true of the mysterious group Dzurinda alleges is trying to undermine the intelligence service and the position of his party.
Maybe Dzurinda is right in everything he says - and doesn't say. Maybe there are good reasons for him not to comment on sensitive issues and to be at odds with some people from the administration.
But the fact the public can only guess where the truth lies shows that, if nothing else, Dzurinda is no longer any good at explaining himself.
29. Sep 2003 at 0:00