Bašternák case contributed to deterioration of democracy

No respondent in the survey saw a significant improvement in democracy in Slovakia.

Protest rally against the Bašternák case in Bratislava.Protest rally against the Bašternák case in Bratislava. (Source: Sme)

Democracy in Slovakia has deteriorated in the past five years. This stems from the survey among 80 experts carried out by the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms (INEKO) think tank.

Thirty-five respondents said democracy worsened slightly, while 17 said there was bigger deterioration and five saw serious deterioration. On the other hand, 13 experts claimed the quality neither worsened nor improved, while eight saw slight improvement and two a bigger improvement. No one said democracy improved significantly, the SITA newswire reported.

Among the factors that contributed to the deterioration of democracy were the uncompleted investigations of the Gorilla and Bašternák cases, no punishment to corruption, the rise in popularity of far-right extremist Marian Kotleba and his party, the responses of politicians to the migration crisis, the way of electing a new general prosecutor and circumstances surrounding the failed appointment of the Constitutional Court justices.

On the other hand, democracy improved due to publishing the contracts with state and court rulings, the actions of Andrej Kiska as Slovak president, the failed election of Štefan Harabin to the posts of Supreme Court president and Judicial Council chair, and the start of the Denník N daily, SITA reported.

Among the measures that would improve democracy in a short time are the proper investigation of the Bašternák case, monitoring and evaluation of effectiveness of projects and competitions at the ministries which deal with bigger public orders, publishing detailed property disclosures of politicians and high state officials, as well as more independent work by the police, prosecutor’s offices and courts, and establishing an independent inspection of the police and prosecutor’s office.

For the long-term, democracy may improve thanks to teaching children how to think critically and understand what democracy means, introducing more independence and public control to the police, prosecutor’s office and courts, and improving the quality of public services in education, health care, judiciary and security, SITA wrote.

The survey was conducted at the turn of September and October 2016 among opinion leaders and experts active in the non-governmental sector, business environment, academia, media and public administration in Slovakia. Of more than 200 people, 81 participated and 16 wanted to remain anonymous.

Among those INEKO adressed include: Konštantín Čikovský and Lukáš Fila of Denník N, Martin Dubéci of the Progressive Slovakia Association, blogger Samuel Marec, politician Magdaléna Vášáryová, as well as political analysts Darina Malová and Grigorij Mesežnikov, sociologist Soňa Szomolányi, expert in extremism Daniel Milo, and advisor to the president Ján Mazák.

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