SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Zväz (video included)

WHATEVER Ľubomír Jahnátek does in the future, he will be best remembered for a promotional video he recorded in 2007. “Vee politicins vil be der on ou behalf and togedr wis our own and forigns experts vee vil try to find the best solutions for Slovakia. For us!” says Jahnátek as his bewildered eyes move rapidly from left to right.

WHATEVER Ľubomír Jahnátek does in the future, he will be best remembered for a promotional video he recorded in 2007. “Vee politicins vil be der on ou behalf and togedr wis our own and forigns experts vee vil try to find the best solutions for Slovakia. For us!” says Jahnátek as his bewildered eyes move rapidly from left to right.

The former economy and current agriculture minister sure meant what he said. He took all the experts he could find in his home village of Komjatice and gave them top posts at his ministry. But we already discussed this last week. Now it’s time to look at Jahnátek’s explanation of the scandal.

“About three weeks ago we were informed that means are being gathered to discredit me. It was connected with my staunch attitude towards fines for supermarket chains. It is being organised by a certain union (zväz).” When asked which one he was referring to, he refused to say. “The names are known to all that should know them.” Prime Minister Robert Fico’s only reaction to the nepotism going on at the Agriculture Ministry was identical: according to the Smer boss the minister is just a victim of dissatisfied corporations who want to punish Jahnátek for “going after their throats”.

All of this is absurd for several reasons. Firstly, what’s important in the story is the substance (Jahnátek giving posts to his cronies), not the source. Secondly, the clash between supermarket chains and the ministry is in no way exceptional and is not worth much effort besides paying a good lawyer. And thirdly, anyone who knows the development of the scandal will tell you that supermarkets were not involved in any way other than selling the newspapers that bring the news.

It is not relevant whether the fictitious fight with big business is a conscious effort to divert attention, or if Jahnátek actually believes what he says.

In either case, the strategy of fighting fictional enemies, which pop up again and again whenever Smer is in trouble, is dangerous for several reasons. It shows that the ruling party doesn’t mind smearing innocent people and firms if it serves their interests. It proves that the truth means nothing to the ruling party. And it tries to exploit and reinforce the idea that wealthy corporations are always conspiring against the common people and their political representatives, which deepens social conflict and feeds paranoia.

It is little surprise that Smer is using these methods. After all, all of its members are well known from the time when the country was run by another union, in which many Smer members served in the past, i.e. the Soviet one.

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