JÁN Slota and Anna Belousovová buried the hatchet in 2003 after their personal vendettas kept both the Slovak National Party (SNS) and Slota’s short-lived revenge party, the Real Slovak National Party (PSNS), from reaching parliament in 2002. They even had a kiss at a press conference to seal their alliance in front of television cameras and photographers. Eight years later it appears as if their unification was nothing but a temporary ceasefire while the party was struggling to crawl closer to power or actually began exercising it thanks to Robert Fico’s notorious decision to invite the SNS to form a government with him in 2006.
In 2001 Belousovová, then using her maiden name Malíková, acted to suspend Slota’s membership in the SNS – setting off a process of disintegration which gave birth to two nationalist parties, with the only difference between the original and the clone, or vice versa, being the intensity of their jingoism and the pejoratives used to describe those who were defined as enemies of the Slovak nation.
Belousovová blamed Slota for harming the party’s credibility with the public. Yet she underestimated the fact that what Slota’s opponents and critics find most appalling about him is what attracts many SNS voters and card-carrying members. Most SNS members have never distanced themselves from Slota and his antics and as political scientist Miroslav Kusý once noted: “They are what Slota is like, and Slota is what they are like”.
Now in 2011, Slota is kicking Belousovová out of the SNS, claiming that she has an unquenchable thirst for power. Of course, the arranged expulsion came after what Slota and his buddies called grave damage to the SNS caused by Belousovová’s comments to the media.
Why is Belousovová’s departure worthy of an editorial when the SNS is a small opposition party with nationalism as its sole fuel? Because this latest version of tit-for-tat between Slota and Belousovová shows again that the party lacks any serious public policy programme and that when it is deprived of political power – which it exercised for four years amid clear cases of cronyism and outrageous scandals at the ministries it controlled – open internal conflict is its only modus operandi.
The recent events also show that Slota and Belousovová are nothing more than political folk figures who are not taken seriously by more credible political leaders. Belousovová last acquired a mass audience when she slapped a fellow-MP, Igor Matovič of the Freedom and Solidarity party, in the face because he had referred to her as “Anča”.
Fico, of course, knew the character of Slota and Belousovová in 2006 and he was surely aware of the fabric from which SNS is sewn. Nevertheless, Fico still invited them for a four-year ruling ride, driven by his own thirst for power, while serving up the argument that the SNS was a better partner than others for Smer to pursue its social objectives.
Slota and Belousovová have crossed the boundaries of human decency many times in their quarrels: Slota said about Belousovová, as quoted by Sme, that “unsatisfied women who are unable to marry or to give birth to a real Slovak man, find fulfilment in Slovak politics; however they are still very far from understanding it”.
Belousovová had called Slota a drunkard and a brute in the past, but after the 2003 ceasefire she silently toed the party line, supporting the man who several times had called her “a mad cow”.
They have called each other so many spiteful names that one would have thought that there was no possibility of a civil relationship or even toleration of each other’s presence. Yet, their shared thirst for power was more decisive.
What Belousovová did differently when she chaired the SNS was to refine her rhetoric and offer opinions on a wider range of issues than Slota ever did. She also seemed more acceptable to a wider political spectrum – but not, of course, to hard-core SNS voters. The conflict between Belousovová and Slota has never been over political principles, Slovak nationalism, enemies of the state, or the party's orientation: both of them kept the SNS on the far-right fringe, oriented on a very narrow agenda.
What this newest chapter in their saga really shows is that some politicians cannot change their very essence. In the same way, it is unlikely that Robert Fico will transform himself and, if given the opportunity in the future, perhaps after Slota and Belousovová have kissed and made up, he would again invite the couple onto his political bandwagon.
7. Feb 2011 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová