SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Ano

A MILLIONAIRE and media mogul starts a party called Ano (Yes), promises to bring in a new type of politics, succeeds in elections and becomes the decisive element in the formation of a ruling coalition. Does this remind you of Andrej Babiš, who finished second in last week’s Czech elections? Well, it’s also the story of Pavol Rusko, whose Ano enabled the formation of a right-wing government in Slovakia in 2002. The story of the two Anos is not the only way in which the Czech vote confirms that Czechoslovakia, which celebrated its 95th birthday just two days after the election, lives on.

A MILLIONAIRE and media mogul starts a party called Ano (Yes), promises to bring in a new type of politics, succeeds in elections and becomes the decisive element in the formation of a ruling coalition. Does this remind you of Andrej Babiš, who finished second in last week’s Czech elections? Well, it’s also the story of Pavol Rusko, whose Ano enabled the formation of a right-wing government in Slovakia in 2002. The story of the two Anos is not the only way in which the Czech vote confirms that Czechoslovakia, which celebrated its 95th birthday just two days after the election, lives on.

There is Babiš, a Slovak who moved to the Czech Republic in the 1990s. There is the traditional political right, which suffered a similar debacle as its Slovak counterpart a year and a half ago. The Czech ODS, once even more dominant than Dzurinda’s SDKÚ, got just 7.72 percent (SDKÚ received 6.09 in 2012). There is the rise of newly formed, untested parties with unclear agendas or ideological boundaries – both Babiš and Tomio Okamura’s Úsvit fit the definition, as does Slovakia’s OĽaNO, which is basically just a random combination of people, and the second strongest party in the country, according to some polls.

And in both countries there are doubts about the future of the left. The Czech Social Democratic Party looks like it’s going to split up any day. That’s not possible in the case of Smer. But it’s exactly what happened in the past, when the local left kept dividing until Robert Fico emerged as a clear hegemon. And it’s what could be awaiting us in the future if Fico wins the presidency, as none of the likely successors match his political skill.

Let’s wish for the Czechs that at least their version of Ano will turn out better than ours. After a few years in power the party split, its members started accusing each other of taking bribes, its economy minister became the main character in the Gorilla scandal and Rusko got shot in the knee. Matching this level of chaos would be challenging. But is it possible? Yes, definitely.

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