SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Kravata

“WHY does a cow, never choose to wear a tie? Looking in her mirror she only tries and tries,” sang pop idol Peter Nagy in the 1990s, playing on the similarity between the word for “cow” (krava) and “tie” (kravata). Now the answer to Nagy’s question is simple – it’s a cow. Finding out why Richard Sulík decided to attend a lunch with foreign ambassadors wearing white linen pants, a white shirt, and no tie, is a little tougher – after all, he is the speaker of parliament. The case illustrates a broader problem members of the new coalition seem to have with clothing. Prime Minister Iveta Radičová at first refused to wear stockings, despite warnings by protocol experts. She eventually gave in: “I can report that the stockings are on. There will be no headlines,” Radičová told journalists on her official trip to Poland. But she also announced plans to set up a commission to review the dress code “to accommodate the needs of the 21st century”, and “reflect the fact that a woman is prime minister”.

Faithful to his membership of Ordinary People, Igor Matovič dresses informally even for parliamentary sessions. Faithful to his membership of Ordinary People, Igor Matovič dresses informally even for parliamentary sessions. (Source: Sme - V. Šimíček)

“WHY does a cow, never choose to wear a tie? Looking in her mirror she only tries and tries,” sang pop idol Peter Nagy in the 1990s, playing on the similarity between the word for “cow” (krava) and “tie” (kravata). Now the answer to Nagy’s question is simple – it’s a cow. Finding out why Richard Sulík decided to attend a lunch with foreign ambassadors wearing white linen pants, a white shirt, and no tie, is a little tougher – after all, he is the speaker of parliament. The case illustrates a broader problem members of the new coalition seem to have with clothing. Prime Minister Iveta Radičová at first refused to wear stockings, despite warnings by protocol experts. She eventually gave in: “I can report that the stockings are on. There will be no headlines,” Radičová told journalists on her official trip to Poland. But she also announced plans to set up a commission to review the dress code “to accommodate the needs of the 21st century”, and “reflect the fact that a woman is prime minister”.

MP Igor Matovič announced the terms under which he would support the government manifesto and stay in the SaS caucus in parliament standing in front of a huge Slovak flag – wearing linen pants, a black T-shirt and a pair of flip-flops. The leader of the ‘Ordinary People’, a group of MPs likely one day to launch a separate party, has been seen wearing a suit ever since. But one has to wonder just how ordinary the man will be.

Luckily, at least some politicians are fashion-cautious. Deputy Minister for Social Affairs Lucia Nicholsonová visited the Luník IX Roma ghetto wearing high heels, tight pants, a perfectly fitting white blouse and a designer handbag. Must have been some sight for the locals.

What does all this say about the new ruling coalition? On the one hand, it shows a lack of experience, a sense for showing-off, and a nostalgia for life before politics. On the other, it proves that the country is not run by people who were born in suits, raised by party congresses, and indulge in formal displays of power and superiority. A welcome change to Robert Fico, who never smiled and rarely missed a chance to remind his audience that he was “the chairman of the government of the Slovak Republic”.

So even if all members of the new elite start wearing ties, let’s hope they don’t lose their human touch. And that they keep in mind one of Peter Nagy’s early hits: “Shield, oh shield, that wonderful folly, from which you have so far not grown up.”


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