SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Koncesie

GREAT men often enter public life to fight for a great cause. Nelson Mandela fought apartheid, Václav Havel communism. And Slovak parliamentary speaker Richard Sulík concession fees (koncesie). He started his crusade against the fees, which are used to finance public broadcasters, in 2008, when the government introduced a plan to make them mandatory for all those who pay electricity bills, including businesses and households with no TV sets or radios.

Normal service will resume shortly.Normal service will resume shortly. (Source: Sme - Tomáš Benedikovič)

GREAT men often enter public life to fight for a great cause. Nelson Mandela fought apartheid, Václav Havel communism. And Slovak parliamentary speaker Richard Sulík concession fees (koncesie). He started his crusade against the fees, which are used to finance public broadcasters, in 2008, when the government introduced a plan to make them mandatory for all those who pay electricity bills, including businesses and households with no TV sets or radios.

In a blog Sulík explained that “basic values such as justice and solidarity played no role in drafting the law”, “its creators cared only for money” and stressed that the law was “prepared by dilettantes”.

After the legislation passed, Sulík initiated a national referendum on scrapping the fees, to which he only later added further questions. And it took almost another year before he announced that he was launching a party – Freedom and Solidarity (SaS).

Last fall he got his referendum, which was ruled invalid due to low voter turnout. Never mind, said Sulík, we’re in government now and can achieve our goals even without a plebiscite. Concession fees could supposedly not be gotten rid of right away due to the dire state of the public finances, but 2011 was to be their last year.

That is true no more, and they will go on for at least another year. Why? For the same reason that Sulík found so appalling just three years ago – lack of money.

In keeping the fees SaS is going against its primary and core agenda. Whatever argument Sulík might try to come up with, he has already ridiculed it in his early political days. What’s the reason for his drastic turnaround?

It could be that the SaS boss never cared about the fees that much, and that they just served to provide him with public recognition. Or maybe Sulík has finally understood what politics is all about - concessions.


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