“THE WORLD is stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they cannot get.” This is how Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World ironically describes the new society and yet this is how some politicians envision their ideal electorate.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico also promised stability, which is achievable at a price that people will not be asking for and for which his government cannot give to them, and thus Fico has been diligently telling his electorate what they actually need.
Yet Daniel Lipšic, who earlier this year quit his mother party, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), in pursuit of his vision of a society not run by oligarchs but by decent people, as he put it, has been actually trying to figure out what people really want.
He says he has already learned during his summer barbecue tour that “Slovakia has many decent people” and that Slovaks are fed up with the current political situation and no longer want merely to have to choose the lesser evil.
He also concluded that the country needs to be built anew from the ground up, as “cosmetic improvements will no longer help”.
Popular disillusionment with politics may have something to do with the way in which the fourcentre-right parties that made up the last government – in which Lipšic served as interior minister – wasted the trust that voters had invested in them by simply handing power to Robert Fico in a vote over the EU bailout mechanism.
The decision by Richard Sulík’s Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) not to support the government led directly to Fico’s victory in March.
Revolted by the centre-right parties’ antics, voters refused to fall into the ‘lesser evil’ trap in the general election – and refused to vote for them just to keep Fico from returning to power.
Now Lipšic aspires to add yet another party to Slovakia’s political map. He says it will be different and he will hear what people want.
Yet the greatness of a statesman lies in his ability to strike a balance between what the masses want to hear, what is actually achievable and what is good for society.
The Harvard Law School graduate faces a giant challenge because he will have to persuade right-wing voters, with whom the Fico-type of populist discourse does not resonate (and it will not be enough simply to adapt some of his tricks), that his New Majority, as Lipšic calls the party, is not yet another one-man show to feed the ambitions of the founder.
In fact the rise of one-man parties established by politicians whose ambitions are no longer quenched by their mother parties is one of the oldest stories in Slovakia’s book of politics.
After adding their little parties to the political skyline and failing, these prodigal sons sometimes return to their mother parties.
Given the tradition of single-use parties, even political analysts remained cautious when guessing whether Lipšic would be able to collect the 5 percent needed to win seats in parliament.
Since the right wing is still bleeding from its electoral wounds, Lipšic’s initiative will most likely contribute to further fragmentation of the right-wing sphere. Even more so, now that Radoslav Procházka, whom Lipšic brought to the KDH, is founding his own faction within the party, trying to make a difference from the inside.
Lipšic’s great disadvantage is that people have grown tired of checking out new political parties even if the old political faces are worn out and have lost any drive and appeal.
Perhaps Lipšic hopes to win the hearts of those who have grown fed up with the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), once the strongest right-wing force, due to the complete inability of its leader, Mikuláš Dzurinda, to quit the top post at the right time, or those who could never forgive the SaS for their failure to back the previous government; or perhaps people who are repelled by Igor Matovič’s irresponsible exhibitionism and yet do not want to vote for Fico. Lipšic wants them all.
Lipšic probably hopes to use some of the popularity he generated after the emergence of the unverified Gorilla file, based on an alleged operation by the Slovak intelligence service that purportedly describes high-level political corruption in 2005-6, during the second government of Mikuláš Dzurinda.
As interior minister at the time, Lipšic intensively commented on the case and hurried to summon press conferences whenever there was any news about the investigation or new suspicions emerged, and promised to fight the Gorillas, which became a synonym for political corruption in Slovakia.
But as has happened many times before, the self-declared gorilla hunters became calmer after the elections and Lipšic will need much more than lofty slogans.
And while Lipšic’s dream of a country which is not ruled by oligarchs could be easily shared by at least 90 percent of the population, he will need to give some more hints as to how he plans to achieve that dream.
10. Sep 2012 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová