SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Achilova päta

INVULNERABLE demigods of the past could at least be stopped by heel injuries. Today, they undergo a quick surgery, get a crutch and return to the campaign trail within hours.

INVULNERABLE demigods of the past could at least be stopped by heel injuries. Today, they undergo a quick surgery, get a crutch and return to the campaign trail within hours.

Not only did the rupture of Robert Fico’s Achilles tendon fail to stop his efforts to get elected as president, it helped him distract the public’s attention from another piece of bad news that came on the very same day as his football injury. Andrej Kiska is not only leaving other opposition candidates behind in the polls, but he may actually be catching up with Fico. According to the Median SK polling agency, only 3 percentage points separate the two.

There are several reasons to be sceptical about Kiska’s high results, however. He usually does well in surveys that are based on the assumption of high attendance - around 80 percent in the case of Median. In the last two presidential campaigns, less than half of the voters showed up for the first round and there is little reason this time should be much different.

Many of Kiska’s fans are protest voters who are upset with politics, not disciplined voters. Neither are they loyal, and they can still change their minds in the final days of the campaign. For months, Václav Fischer seemed certain to proceed into the second round of the Czech elections, but didn’t.

But still, Kiska’s numbers are consistently good and must be taken seriously. Since the humiliating defeat of Vladimír Maňka in the regional elections in Banská Bystrica, where he got hammered by a local neo-Nazi, Smer is certainly aware that voting results can sometimes be very surprising - and very upsetting. Given that some polls show that the PM could lose the second round, the party must be getting nervous. Kiska certainly is no Paris. But that doesn’t mean he won’t eventually be able to find enough weak spots to beat Fico and start the end of his epic career.

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