SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Volebné čísla

ONE OF the beauties of having a multi-party system is that before each election the parties get assigned their election numbers, volebné čísla. The draw has few real implications, but the numbers appear on the ballots and help tell the parties apart, which had often been useful in the past, when you had the Movement for Democracy (HZD) and Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), or Slovak National Party (SNS) and the Real Slovak National Party (PSNS) competing against each other.

ONE OF the beauties of having a multi-party system is that before each election the parties get assigned their election numbers, volebné čísla. The draw has few real implications, but the numbers appear on the ballots and help tell the parties apart, which had often been useful in the past, when you had the Movement for Democracy (HZD) and Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), or Slovak National Party (SNS) and the Real Slovak National Party (PSNS) competing against each other.

There is less chance of a mix-up between any of the 18 political parties running this time around, although there are two People’s Parties on the list.

But since the first free elections in 1990, when the Czechoslovak Communist Party ran under the number 10, which will be remembered for a long time thanks to the folklore slogan: “Vote for number ten, there’ll be someone to hang you then” (“voľte číslo desať, nech vás má kto vešať“), numbers have traditionally played an important role. So it is little surprise that on Tuesday the TA3 news channel asked a numerologist for her take on the draw. So what do the numbers say?

“One party that could be successful is the HZDS, whose number eight is a very strong one. I also see that SDKÚ’s 15 is excellent. With Smer I have found that they should start thinking about getting together with someone.”

SNS MP Rafael Rafaj offered TV Markíza his own optimistic analysis: “The number ten is really just a reduced one, so it is a number of the sun, a number of winners.”

But the political debate has not been just about the numbers this week. Robert Fico brought up another important issue – election slogans.

The prime minister called a special press conference to discuss the billboards of SDKÚ election leader Iveta Radičová, which say that she wants to be “With the people, for the people,” an idea Fico alleges she stole from the Czech Communist Party. It’s hard to say whether Fico is more upset about the stealing, the fact that he’s not the only one drawing inspiration from communist ideology, or whether he is just mad that it’s hard to tell the motto apart from his own “For the people, for Slovakia”.

Either way, you would think the government has better things to worry about amid an economic crisis and an emissions quotas scandal of colossal dimensions, than the creativity of opposition strategists.

In Slovakia, you don’t really need a billboard to know who to vote for. But let’s hope nonetheless that there will be more substance to the campaign than just empty slogans about the people and lucky numbers.


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