IF THERE was ever a terrible time to be starting a revolution in Slovakia, it’s now. Have you noticed the freezing cold? But if tens of thousands take to the streets despite the weather and the omnipresent lethargy, you know something is happening.
There is even talk of another November Revolution.
However, there are several important differences, even if you don’t count the fact that Novembers tend to be much warmer than Februaries. First, in 1989 it was easier to identify the enemy. The communist regime was a fact. And it was felt in every conceivable aspect of life.
Today, the main opponent seems to be political corruption as described in the Gorilla file. The problem is that no one can be sure just how much of that document is accurate. And even assuming it is true in its entirety, no one can be sure just how much of the 2005 reality survived until 2012. And even if it did – who exactly is to blame?
Which brings us to another key question: what should the street demand? If you live under an oppressive regime, it is usual to ask for its demolition and free elections. But what do you demand in a democracy? This is why protest organisers are struggling to come up with a set of clear aims.
They ask for a thorough investigation of Gorilla. But that can really be done only by an independent judiciary. They ask for a change in the political system. But democracy already has standard mechanisms to make that change happen, if the majority so desires – referenda, elections, petitions, all of which are in place.
The problem is that not enough people seem to care. Asking for reform of the financing of political parties, or the appointment of the elected general prosecutor are meaningful requests. But they can hardly electrify a crowd.
More pressure on politicians, more interest in public affairs, more talk about ethics in politics and business, these could all become positive results of the current protests. But the last thing Slovakia needs is a revolution.
10. Feb 2012 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila