SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Bežní ľudia

“I WANT to live like common people, I want to do whatever common people do,” sang Jarvis Cocker of the British group Pulp in the 90s. Years later, Slovak politicians are catching on. And common people are all you hear about.

“I WANT to live like common people, I want to do whatever common people do,” sang Jarvis Cocker of the British group Pulp in the 90s. Years later, Slovak politicians are catching on. And common people are all you hear about.

There is Igor Matovič, who uses his parliamentary platform “Obyčajní Ľudia” (Ordinary People) to exhort concessions from the coalition, which is dependent on the four votes he controls, and to gain attention.

He uses that attention wisely – he shows up in parliament wearing flip-flops, talks of huge bribes he’s been offered to switch sides, only to say it was all a joke, and indulges in provoking members of the former coalition with insults. Just your regular guy.

Since “obyčajní ľudia” is already taken, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová uses a different term when talking about common citizens – “bežní občania”. And she talks about them a lot.

At a press conference about the proposed tax hikes and changes in payroll deductions, Radičová stressed that her government would seek a solution which is “just and will not affect the common people”, that her proposals “remove ungrounded exceptions, which have nothing to do with common people, on the contrary, until now the common people had to show solidarity with various social groups who did not pay taxes or deductions,” and so on.

One would almost think that instead of having a right-wing government the country was run by populist socialists. What was also striking was the number of people who did not fit into the “common” category – not only people with bigger incomes, but also small entrepreneurs, people who rent real estate, or students working part-time.

One can understand that the fear of Robert Fico’s return is scaring the hell out of coalition politicians, and that they are trying to sell much-needed reforms even to the less fortunate. But with everyone talking about the common people, you have to wonder – is anyone interested in doing something for the rest of us?


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