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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Štrajk

DRAMATIC strikes are nothing unusual. But a dramatic štrajk, that’s something unheard of. Slovaks may have adopted the foreign term, but the practices of hard-core collective bargaining have arrived only now. And the doctors’ protest is the second political and social clash of unprecedented intensity to occur in quick succession.

DRAMATIC strikes are nothing unusual. But a dramatic štrajk, that’s something unheard of. Slovaks may have adopted the foreign term, but the practices of hard-core collective bargaining have arrived only now. And the doctors’ protest is the second political and social clash of unprecedented intensity to occur in quick succession.

The first one was the vote on the European bail-out fund, which brought down the government. For a country where ruling coalitions have always tended towards compromise and mostly succeeded in finding it, even in the more severe conflicts, this was a shock. Now, with many doctors failing to show up for work, comes another one.

Both cases can be interpreted as a positive or a negative sign. The optimistic version is that Slovakia is gaining new confidence – whether it’s Eurosceptics or doctors, people are ready to stand up for their principles. Since apathy and a lack of activism, and their destructive consequences, have dominated local public life, that would be encouraging.

The less upbeat version is that selfishness, a lack of responsibility, and unwillingness to compromise are becoming the norm. And that voters and patients are becoming hostages of extremists. Unfortunately, given the tragic possibilities that early elections and the doctors’ strike may bring, this seems to be the more realistic assessment. It seems that these days, common sense too is going on štrajk.


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