THE EVENTS leading up to the current cabinet crisis put Ľubomír Lintner in the media spotlight. Lintner, a deputy chairman of the New Citizen's Alliance (ANO), wanted ANO Chairman Pavol Rusko to voluntarily resign as economy minister over alleged conflicts of interest. When Rusko refused, nine ANO MPs led by Lintner turned against the party leader and formed their own rebel faction.
Pledging support to the current Mikuláš Dzurinda's cabinet, Lintner signed an agreement on September 12 with the remaining three coalition partners - the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union, the Hungarian Coalition Party, and the Christian Democrats.
Just one day before, the ANO congress voted to expel Lintner and his loyal peers from the party. The Slovak Spectator spoke with Lintner, a journalist and political commentator, about the current situation.
Lintner, a former employee of TV Markíza, entered politics after his former Markíza boss, Rusko, decided to establish the liberal ANO party. Lintner says that the country's modern day politics resembles its Communist past in terms of the abuse of power.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Were you surprised that the ANO congress expelled you and your platform from the ANO?
Ľubomír Lintner (ĽL): I was certainly surprised because it had nothing to do with liberalism. It is proof that the delegates of the congress have not really parted ways with the past, and that the transformation away from totalitarian thinking in Slovakia will take longer than I expected.
TSS: What relationship do you have now with your former ANO colleagues?
ĽL: We exchange polite greetings. I am sorry that three of my colleagues - Beáta Brestenská, Eva Černá and Iveta Henzélyová - are convinced that we form a plot of some kind against the chairman [Pavol Rusko]. I am surprised that they do not acknowledge that the bills of exchange [the conflict of interest triggering Rusko's dismissal] were not signed by [Christian Democratic Movement Chairman] Pavol Hrušovský, [Prime Minister] Mikuláš Dzurinda or Béla Bugár [of the Hungarian Coalition Party] but Rusko himself.
TSS: Were you disappointed with the attitude that Pavol Rusko took in this case?
ĽL: Very much so. All that was needed here was a little bit of self-reflection. In politics this aspect has to exist in the behaviour of public officials. Pavol Rusko is a great manager, but he has not grown big enough for politics.
TSS: You plan to continue supporting the right-wing cabinet. Do you really believe that the cabinet can complete its election term?
ĽL: The situation of the minority government has deteriorated even further, demonstrated by its inability to make decisions after the opposition's obstructions. Opposition parties want to make use of this situation to push through their ideas. But they have chosen a very bad moment for this. The whole thing unfolds from the actions of the chairman of a political party who did not behave the way a public official should.
Another interesting issue is the political pirouette of Pavol Rusko himself, who turned from an active supporter of privatization to a supporter of its halt.
This only proves that he is guided by a shallow human idea: if I can't do it, then no one else will, either. In politics, such attitudes are destructive.
TSS: Pavol Rusko and his peers say you have no right to place ministers of your choice in the cabinet and that PM Dzurinda should have respected the ANO's demand to withdraw František Tóth and Rudolf Zajac [Lintner loyalists] from the cabinet. Dzurinda has acted in line with the wishes of coalition parties in the past, and his decision in this case is an exception. Why did Dzurinda favour your choice against the ANO's?
ĽL: Everything boils down to the actions of ANO Chairman Pavol Rusko in his ministerial position. If two cabinet members, ANO nominees, express disagreement with such actions and then the chairman proposes their recall, it would probably be wrong for the PM to accept such a procedure. By doing so, he would only confirm that he grants the wishes of a person who is a disappointment himself. I think that the prime minister acted correctly, otherwise he would have shifted the perception of Slovak politics backwards.
TSS: Do you ever think about launching your own party?
ĽL: Such ideas must always start with an analysis of the voter environment. I think that the Slovak public is disgusted with how politicians behave in general. Many people have invested hope in new parties. I fear that apathy may come soon.
TSS: You are relatively new to politics. From the inside, has politics proven to be how you imagined it?
ĽL: I got to know politics by working as a journalist. But a journalistic approach to politics often pushes people into recognizing the necessity of compromise. Slovak politics and the actions of individual politicians is still far away from the standards that we perceive in other EU member states that took a democratic path after the end of the World War II. Politics is about how individuals think and act. Although a majority of Slovaks say that they are Christian, their actions are still far away from these values.
19. Sep 2005 at 0:00 | Martina Jurinová