“SHIT happens” is becoming a standard political phrase. Prime Minister Iveta Radičová’s spokesperson Rado Baťo used it in his Facebook status after the government was brought down. Former speaker of parliament Richard Sulík drew on it to explain why, despite previous agreements, his SaS party failed to support a bill proposed by the Finance Ministry.
And they are right. In fact, it is surprising just how much can go wrong in a country. Earlier this month the cabinet fell, early elections were called, and the door was opened for the return of Robert Fico. But anyone who thought that was the end of it was terribly mistaken.
This week, local politicians pushed the country to the brink of anarchy on three different fronts – opposition party Smer says that the former ruling coalition has no legitimacy to pass laws in parliament. That, of course, is nonsense since MPs still have their mandates and there is nothing to prevent them from working until the election. But there seems to be no general rule for which legislation will be approved and which not, since even laws drafted based on the government manifesto, such as the tax and levy reform, are being excluded. A deadlock may yet arise.
The second problem is that of the government. The country’s constitution is vague about what precisely should happen after a vote of no confidence. The president appeared keen to appoint a non-partisan caretaker government, the SDKÚ, KDH, and Most-Híd wanted Radičová to continue, but without SaS, which in turn wanted to stay, and although Fico helped create the chaos, he said it was not for him to help clean up the mess.
Then there was the question of who should represent Slovakia at the EU summit on October 23. Radičová said she was in charge for now. But in European affairs, which cost her the premiership, she has no mandate to negotiate anything. President Ivan Gašparovič said he could step in to take charge. But given that during his years in office he has been seen mainly at football and hockey games, sending him to Brussels would have been a risky enterprise. It’s far from certain that Sarkozy and Merkel could converse about the NHL at a level befitting the Slovak head of state. Gašparovič proudly declared that his right to go to the summit was “priórne” (a word he invented, which nicely highlights the qualities he is ready to bring to the negotiating table), but as The Slovak Spectator went to print it emerged that Europe’s leaders would be spared the pleasure of his company, at least on this occasion.
Considering the circumstances, the foul language of local politicians, normally in itself a cause for concern, seems a mere trifle. It’s just something that happens.
24. Oct 2011 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila