THE SLOVAK Parliament advanced a Patriotism Bill drafted by the Slovak National Party (SNS) to its second reading on December 9, with 78 of the 130 deputies present voting in favour of it, the SITA newswire reported.
The draft law, proposed by Ján Slota and Rafael Rafaj of the SNS, would require that the national anthem be played at the beginning of every school week and at the start of sessions of parliament, the cabinet and self-governing authorities.
Rafaj argued that patriotism deepens and preserves citizens’ loyalty to the state.
“A draft bill of this sort is justified,” he said during the plenary debate in the parliament, as quoted by SITA.
Slota said that now, when Slovaks have their own sovereign state, the awareness of statehood and its signs are paradoxically diminishing from activities pursued by state and public authorities and the public-service media. It is this anti-patriotism that is pushing its way through, Slota added.
Opposition deputies are strongly opposed to the draft bill. František Mikloško of the Conservative Democratic Party (KDS) said that the SNS wanted to poison Slovak society with another nonsensical and aggressive law. Zsolt Simon of Most-Híd said that the legislation is intended to promote the SNS. Pavol Abrhan of the Christian Democrats (KDH) said he did not object to the anthem being played, but did object to it being made compulsory, the SITA newswire reported.
According to the draft, education on patriotism should be included in teaching plans at schools. The national emblem, the national flag, the text of Slovakia's anthem and the preamble to the Slovak Constitution would be placed in all classrooms. The legislation would introduce a new institution: a loyalty oath to the Slovak Republic for mayors, civil servants, members of parliament and municipal deputies. It would commit them to protecting the integrity and sovereignty of the country. Fifteen-year-olds would also have to swear the oath when they receive their first identity cards.
The ruling coalition parties agreed to advance the bill to its second reading in early December. But not all coalition leaders agreed it should be a full act of parliament.
“It will be enough to change it into an amendment, there is no need for a new law,” SITA quoted Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) leader Vladimír Mečiar as saying. “The content does not necessitate a law. There are some technical problems. Some issues do not need to be resolved by law but via measures by the Education Ministry.”