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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Zápasník

FORMER wrestler (zápasník) and Olympic bronze medalist Jozef Lohyňa is not the first athlete to get into Slovak politics. Racecar driver Jirko Malchárek served as economy minister and became one of the main characters in Gorilla, the tale of how the country was run by puppets in the hands of business groups. Hockey legend Peter Šťastný sits in the European Parliament and may even be considering a bid for the presidency. And football player and coach Dušan Galis is not only an MP, but also the government’s plenipotentiary for youth and sports.

FORMER wrestler (zápasník) and Olympic bronze medalist Jozef Lohyňa is not the first athlete to get into Slovak politics. Racecar driver Jirko Malchárek served as economy minister and became one of the main characters in Gorilla, the tale of how the country was run by puppets in the hands of business groups. Hockey legend Peter Šťastný sits in the European Parliament and may even be considering a bid for the presidency. And football player and coach Dušan Galis is not only an MP, but also the government’s plenipotentiary for youth and sports.

Neither is it an exception that Lohyňa wants to become head of a region where he doesn’t really live (he changed his permanent residence only a week before announcing his candidacy). That type of last-minute moving happens ahead of many local elections.

But by becoming a candidate for the seat of župan (head of region) in Trenčín, Lohyňa serves as a good illustration of the condition in which the right finds itself just weeks ahead of the regional elections. Despite having no previous involvement in public life, no clear political agenda and barely having an address in his election district, Lohyňa is one of only two candidates the right could agree on in any of Slovakia’s eight regions. Elsewhere, there are multiple right-wing nominations or endless negotiations are still going on, and in Nitra and Banská Bystrica the Christian Democrats even support Smer candidates.

And the presidential elections don’t look any better – there are currently five confirmed right wing candidates, with no clear front runner.

Prime Minister Robert Fico’s decision to run for president might destabilise the ruling party and provide a good opportunity for the opposition. But a look into the way the right does politics shows that it may take a very long time before they can actually wrestle for power.

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