THE TOP Slovak phrase of this week needs no translation, because it’s already in English. “To be continued”, said Prime Minister Fico as he was approaching the end of his press conference, where he provided evidence of shady financing of the opposition SDKÚ party, and warned the party of former prime minister Mikuláš Dzurinda that more damaging revelations are to come.
It’s not as though Dzurinda hasn’t had enough. Swiss accounts, Caribbean tax havens, and foreign firms with names like “Allied Wings”: all of it sounds like something you would normally deal with if you were running a mafia organisation, not a political party. It will probably be difficult to explain to voters in the upcoming election campaign not only where the SDKÚ gets its money, but even the more simple stuff, such as why the party logo belongs to a limited liability company owned by a London-based firm. But apparently, Dzurinda’s not in a talkative mood.
The affair is just a sequel, whose first part came in 2005, when the media initially reported on the sale of the SDKÚ’s building. Then, as now, the party refused to provide any specifics on the mysteries of its accounting. Dzurinda’s decision to not answer any questions, and just file unspecified criminal charges against Fico, in the hope that people will just shrug their shoulders and move on, is ridiculous.
The entire situation has two dire consequences. The first is that in this crucial, pre-election period, Fico has managed to shift public attention from the many scandals of his own government. In the last three and a half years, Slovakia has seen a tender worth millions of euros announced on the bulletin board of a locked ministry hallway, the sale of emission quotas to a mysterious US garage firm for half the market price, and a toll-system tender won by far the highest bid. Much of that will now be forgotten.
And even those who will not forget will find it hard to find an alternative. Sure, there are other opposition parties, but the SDKÚ has long been their leader, so its scandals tarnish the opposition as a whole. And that is the second main result of the SDKÚ scandal – a morally and politically weakened opposition. All of that makes the Fico government much more likely to be continued.
1. Feb 2010 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila