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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Dzurinda

SMALL political parties are for party apparatchiks, large ones are for the people. When Mikuláš Dzurinda presented this idea at the founding congress of his Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) in 2000, little did he know that 12 years later he would be leading a party with 5.1 percent in the polls. Long gone are dreams of leading a large right-wing reform party: now it has all come down to just getting into parliament.

SMALL political parties are for party apparatchiks, large ones are for the people. When Mikuláš Dzurinda presented this idea at the founding congress of his Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) in 2000, little did he know that 12 years later he would be leading a party with 5.1 percent in the polls. Long gone are dreams of leading a large right-wing reform party: now it has all come down to just getting into parliament.

Looking at it from a historical perspective, the party did not deserve to fall this hard. In the long run, it has done more good than evil, managing to bring the country into the EU and NATO, pushing through tough reforms, and probably coming up with more innovative public-policy ideas than all the other parties combined.

But still, it is little surprise that it is now struggling to survive. Let’s look at just the last two years.

The party has split with its most popular politician – the outgoing prime minister, Iveta Radičová.

Dzurinda and Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš have stubbornly defended a string of scandals, including the lease of a tax office building from a regional party boss, and the shady sale of platinum from state reserves.

The party leadership has shown little or no interest in the Gorilla file.

Combined with the fact that the country no longer faces civilisational threats such as the authoritarian tendencies of Vladimír Mečiar, or exclusion from the European club, voters find it hard to find a reason to vote for the SDKÚ.

In the end, the party will most likely make it into parliament and perform much better than the current polls indicate.

Still, Dzurinda, whose lack of personal appeal is one of the SDKÚ’s key problems, should bear in mind his own words: “The country has little use for a few wise, but isolated groups of politicians, who only find room on the fringes of parliament.”

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