Welcome to your weekly commentary and overview of news from Slovakia. The man who led Slovakia out of near-authoritarianism returns. What the election in Czechia communicates to Slovakia. And a bit of personal news.
Dzurinda’s remake vies for voters’ attention
In the second half of the 1990s, the stakes were high for Slovakia, the infamous “black hole” of Europe, as US secretary of state Madeleine Albright then famously described it. At times it was hard to tell when the evening news ended and the prime-time gangster film began, especially after the kidnapping of the president’s son and the murder of a man who was liaising with the main witness in the case.
Then, as the story has since been told, Mikuláš Dzurinda emerged first as spokesperson then as leader of a coalition of five parties that defeated the authoritarian-leaning prime minister, Vladimír Mečiar. The coalition was later transformed into a party with the “blue is good” slogan (or, more precisely, its catchier Slovak version, “modrá je dobrá”). After the 1998 election, Dzurinda went on to replace Mečiar as prime minister, and, during two successive governments, relaunched the transformation processes that had stalled under Mečiar. Most importantly, he led Slovakia into NATO and EU.
Now it is 2023 and parliament is about to vote on a snap election, to take place later this year. And you know that the stakes are high for Slovakia once again because Dzurinda has just re-entered party politics with what is now called the Modrá Koalícia (Blue Coalition). But can a nineties remake really save Slovak democracy once again?