DANIEL Lipšic has a dream. The former interior minister envisions a country which is not ruled by oligarchs and where the state protects the interests of honest people. Aside from the oligarchs and their sidekicks who benefit from the existence of the clans of the privileged, pretty much everyone can identify with Lipšic’s dream, one that he extensively described on his blog by way of explaining his departure from the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). However, the voters that Lipšic is trying to address will expect slightly more than just a dream: instead, they will want a solid plan shared by a number of trustworthy people.
The dream presented by Lipšic will not materialise by simply amending a couple of laws or pushing through yet another change to the country’s pension system (which in any case now risks being modified to death). It will not be enough to install a couple of people who appear smarter than some of Fico’s nominees in politically-charged chairs where they can sit until the next election sweeps them out with yet another post-vote reshuffle.
Such a vision needs broad political consensus and thorough changes to the current electoral system and current political methods and, first of all, a change in the reasons why people currently go into politics. Who is going to line up behind Lipšic to pursue this dream? The disjointed right-wing, which at the moment is not even able to persuade its own former supporters or those who abandoned it after it failed to sustain the government of Iveta Radičová? Or will the support come from yet another flash-in-the-pan new party which will emerge on the political scene and then disintegrate after election night along with the trust of the few thousand voters who decide to offer a chance to some new faces? These are questions that the weary right-wing voter is going to ask.
Lipšic, just like Pavol Frešo, the new leader of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) who also presented his vision recently, was right about several things. For example, the fact that ten years ago the right had drive and was the initiator of big issues like the flat tax, the second pension pillar, and NATO and EU entry, while the left only reacted to these issues. As he points out, these faded memories are no longer enough: the left now sets the agenda and the right wing merely reacts, clumsily.
Since the general election in March, the right wing is not even acting as a real opposition, despite the country being in sore need of one: Robert Fico and his over-size government are cooking up proposals under the veil of fiscal consolidation, essentially without any real opposition, despite some of their policies and practices representing easy targets for criticism.
In the latest Focus opinion poll the SDKÚ scored 6.9 percent, which by recent standards (it scored 3.3 percent in April) is a positively encouraging result. But it is little comfort to those who have no idea where Frešo is going to take the party.
The KDH harvested its traditional 10.7 percent, but it is obvious that the departure of Lipšic will leave some scars. A chunk of conservative voters will inevitably leave with him, given his erstwhile position as one of the party’s most popular politicians.
The departure of Lipšic and his fellow MP Jana Žitňanská rather improbably leaves Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), led by the maverick Igor Matovič, as the largest opposition faction in parliament. OĽaNO can offer many things – offbeat political entertainment foremost among them – but it is neither stable, reliable nor predictable.
The right wing now needs to figure out some fundamental issues, which go much wider than who will lead which party, and whether Lipšic, who has the good fortune of not being associated with any major political scandal or corruption case, will found a new party or not. At this point talk and dreams must mean rather little to right-wing voters: they have heard it all before. Instead, the right-wing parties’ first step in renewing voters’ trust might just be to stop consuming themselves and start listening to the electorate.