Kissed or cursed by Muses?

IF THERE had been a Muse of politics she might have been responsible for the antics of Smer boss Robert Fico, who in early April along with some long-time nationalist entertainers from the Slovak National Party (SNS), showered the Slovak public with a stream of bombshell statements.

IF THERE had been a Muse of politics she might have been responsible for the antics of Smer boss Robert Fico, who in early April along with some long-time nationalist entertainers from the Slovak National Party (SNS), showered the Slovak public with a stream of bombshell statements.

Moreover, Fico started a blog on the webpage of the Sme daily – a newspaper that had always been one of the targets of his acid criticism of the media. He assumed a gregarious smile on the blog and while calling readers “honoured friends” explained with a good-tempered voice why he so vehemently objects to the ruling coalition’s decision to change the parliamentary procedure used to select Slovakia’s general prosecutor from a secret ballot to a recorded, public ballot.

Fico had even dramatically cried out in parliament that the ruling coalition would be breaking the neck of democracy by making the change.

“Yes, if the ruling coalition had announced the change from a secret ballot to a public vote at the beginning of its rule or before the first vote for general prosecutor I could hardly have opposed it even though the secret ballot is the greatest privilege of democracy,” Fico wrote on his blog.

If Fico had never tailored a single piece of legislation to suit his own political ambitions or if he had never allowed his ruling coalition buddies to twist rules and regulations to benefit those of their own kith and kin, then perhaps his concern for the ‘neck of democracy’ would appear more genuine.

Fico’s outcry would also be more plausible if he would not benefit from keeping the vote secret. With the secret ballot preserved, Fico might see past prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka re-elected for another seven-year term as well as the leaders of the ruling coalition squirming in uncertainty over whether they could trust their own MPs to cast ballots for the coalition's candidate.

Moreover, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová has not withdrawn her statement that she would resign if Trnka were re-selected and that, coupled with Fico’s hopes fuelled by an opinion poll that found Smer could form a new government without a partner, means nothing would please Fico more than a serious crisis in the sitting government.

SNS boss Ján Slota and his one-time expert for quirky tenders, Igor Štefanov, have been feeding the media with wild stories and comedic “information” which is supposed to “uncover” the true character of the country’s Interior Minister, Daniel Lipšic, and Police President Jaroslav Spišiak.

While only a very small group of people is likely to attribute any credibility to Slota and Štefanov, their efforts seem quite meretricious since they only began broadcasting their “revelations” after Lipšic announced that Štefanov would bear legal scrutiny for the infamous bulletin-board tender that clearly benefited companies friendly to Slota.

Slota “revealed” that Spišiak had once worked as a mere elevator operator and then went on to allege that Spišiak had caused traffic accidents in 2000 and 2004 while driving under the influence of alcohol. Slota then called on the police president to explain his past conduct. Anyone who has seen a few of Slota’s alcohol-induced public appearances in the past will find this “revelation” more than amusing.

Štefanov’s tales of eavesdropping by the Interior Ministry do have the potential to make the Slovak public nervous, and if the allegations had come from a more credible source there might be much stronger pressure for additional explanation. Štefanov most recently went as far as to say that what he called illegal eavesdropping should worry even a minister in the Radičová government.

Another piece of Fico-theatre called the “Hungarian scare” was performed when parliament rejected a special session to censure Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for his decision to grant voting rights to ethnic Hungarians living beyond Hungary’s borders. Smer arrived with Hungarian flags at parliament – potentially making SNS turn green with envy, or fear, that Fico had just stolen the SNS’s main role on the political stage: holding back the looming Hungarian menace.

Neither Smer nor the SNS can bury their less-than-illustrious political histories and their current modi operandi in the political arena are nothing more than deceitful theatrics that radiate the suspicion that these parties are seeking something other than their declared goals – the same charge that Fico has been trying to hang on the ruling coalition in connection with changing the voting method to select the general prosecutor.

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