IF YOU thought a kroj was only good for doing an odzemok or jumping over a vatra, it turns out you were wrong. The folk costume has new uses reaching far beyond traditional dances or bonfire escapades.
For the first time, a new MP has worn one to swear his parliamentary oath. Slovakia is no Scotland or Saudi Arabia, so Igor Hraško’s decision to put on anything other than a conventional suit did attract attention. And it serves as a good symbol. Firstly, it shows what the opposition will be up to for the next four years. Divided, lacking a clear agenda, and facing a strong Smer, it will have a hard time reaching out to voters. So here come publicity stunts such as this one.
Secondly, it is comforting to once again realise that the nationalist agenda has been picked up by a new generation of politicians who insist on having a flag in the room as they take their oath, and wearing costumes to social events. It does seem a little silly, but it is a very welcome change to Ján Slota, who wanted to get into a tank and flatten Budapest, or find a small yard and a long whip for the Roma. The complete absence of ideological extremism in this parliament is one of its best aspects.
And thirdly, it serves as reminder that we are entering an uncertain period. The future of the EU and Slovakia’s role in it is unknown, and the country itself is in an unprecedented situation, in which all power is concentrated in a single pair of hands, much like in neighbouring Hungary. It is now in large part down to Robert Fico whether Slovakia continues its modernisation and westernisation or we all get ready to wear the kroj again.