SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Bilbord

COME election time, Slovakia is usually full of absurd campaign billboards. In 1994 there was the HZDS singing “Vivat Slovakia!” and four years later Mečiar’s party produced a collage combining the Swiss countryside with the Tatras to create “The country of your heart”. In 2002 Smer amused the country with a picture of naked behinds and the slogan “Into the EU! But not with bare bums”.

COME election time, Slovakia is usually full of absurd campaign billboards. In 1994 there was the HZDS singing “Vivat Slovakia!” and four years later Mečiar’s party produced a collage combining the Swiss countryside with the Tatras to create “The country of your heart”. In 2002 Smer amused the country with a picture of naked behinds and the slogan “Into the EU! But not with bare bums”.

But nothing compares to the “Let’s not feed those that don’t want to work” ‘bilbord’ depicting a Roma man with a photo-shopped gold chain around his neck that the nationalist SNS created this year. The party is desperate – during four years in power, it has accomplished nothing, unless the emissions and bulletin-board scandals, a mismanaged school reform and faked signatures on parliamentary attendance lists count as achievements. Even its anti-Hungarian agenda has been hijacked by Smer, which came up with the language law, pushed through its version of the patriotism law, whose foreign and interior ministers declared Hungarian president Sólyom persona non grata, and which controls the police who took care of Hungarian football hooligans in Dunajská Streda.

So it is no surprise that the polling numbers of the SNS keep falling. And what does the party do? Attack the Roma in the most primitive, racist way. If the local judiciary functioned properly, the Office of the General Prosecutor would already have asked the Supreme Court to dissolve the party for violating the Slovak constitution and laws, as the court has in the past done with another extremist party – Slovenská Pospolitosť. And a criminal investigation for inciting ethnic hatred would already be under way. None of that is happening.

Moreover, the SNS remains part of the ruling coalition, Deputy Prime Minister for Minorities Dušan Čaplovič has said through his spokesman that he would “not comment on the style and form of the election campaign of any party”, neither Smer nor the HZDS have ruled out bringing the SNS into government again after the election, and the SNS itself is fiercely defending its billboard, claiming that it merely points to a statistically proven fact. Vivat Slovakia!

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