SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Zrada

THE LANGUAGE of medieval warfare continues to dominate Slovak politics. Last week it was all about conquering bastions in municipal elections. Now the main topic is zrada (treachery). And again, all you need to do to get the point is read the headlines: “MPs betray Radičová”, “Political scientists guess traitors”, “Parties cover treason”, “How to defeat coalition traitors? Try a vote of confidence”, “No search for traitors”, “Treason unrepeated, government survives”.

THE LANGUAGE of medieval warfare continues to dominate Slovak politics. Last week it was all about conquering bastions in municipal elections. Now the main topic is zrada (treachery). And again, all you need to do to get the point is read the headlines: “MPs betray Radičová”, “Political scientists guess traitors”, “Parties cover treason”, “How to defeat coalition traitors? Try a vote of confidence”, “No search for traitors”, “Treason unrepeated, government survives”.

Not only has everyone been busy looking for the coalition MPs who voted for opposition-backed candidate Dobroslav Trnka in the ballots to choose the next general prosecutor. Even the right-wing camp has split into those who see a solution in making the vote public, as the coalition leaders are now planning to do, and those who see the proposal as a betrayal of democratic principles.


This second camp uses two main arguments – that it’s unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game (i.e. during the selection process) and that secrecy makes sense because it gives MPs freedom of choice, as neither their party headquarters nor the candidates themselves can know for certain how they voted.

Both of these arguments can be challenged – it’s better for democracy to change rules that don’t work than having anonymous MPs bring down the government; and given the fact that nearly all other voting is open, including votes of confidence in members of the government, making the election public will bring no radical change.

Either way, the dispute will drag on for months, until the government pushes through its plan or changes its mind and does something completely different.

To sum up just a few of the battles raging on the political scene: there is the usual coalition-opposition conflict. The coalition parties fight to blame each other for the botched election. Coalition supporters argue about how to deal with the mess left by the traitors.


To add to the fun, Trnka, the incumbent general prosecutor, has accused the government of interfering in the investigation of party financing and the Interior Ministry has retaliated by indicating he has ties to the mafia. If the current trend continues, it will not take long before the word of the week is – political war.


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