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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Bonaparte

IF THERE is one reason why Robert Fico is rarely compared to Napoleon, it’s probably that he is somewhat taller. But his decision to move to the luxurious Bonaparte apartment complex highlights that there are more similarities between the two than the obvious ambition, shrewdness, and high intellect.

IF THERE is one reason why Robert Fico is rarely compared to Napoleon, it’s probably that he is somewhat taller. But his decision to move to the luxurious Bonaparte apartment complex highlights that there are more similarities between the two than the obvious ambition, shrewdness, and high intellect.

Firstly, Fico comes to Napoleon’s hill in a very similar position to the man who gave it its name 200 years ago – wherever he looks, he sees conquered territory. The Frenchman first took the city shortly after the battle of Austerlitz, in which he defeated Austria and Russia. The Peace of Pressburg (a historic name of Bratislava) meant the end of the Holy Roman Empire and secured huge gains for France. Similarly, the prime minister has just crushed the political opposition and enjoys unparalleled powers, heading the country’s first single-party government.

Secondly, the new residence shows that Fico, too, is becoming something of an aristocrat. Whereas in the early days of his political career he used public transport and radical leftist rhetoric, he is now no longer shy about using private jets to get to party events, and living in a flat where the rent is four times the national average wage.

And thirdly, his readiness to show not only his contracts, but also his wife’s tax returns indicates that he may in fact be considering what is formally the highest state office – the presidency. Smer now has enough power that if Fico wanted to, they would crown him as emperor. Luckily, at least in this part of eastern Europe, that is somewhat out of fashion, and courting voters is a must.

The right used the first anniversary of the fall of their government for a new round of blame games and it is clear that the army of opposition leaders has not learned any lessons from its defeat. So for now, no political Waterloo seems to be in sight for Fico, who can just stick to Napoleon’s advice: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

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