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Re: [Slovak-World] Slovakia - Second round

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  • Martin Votruba
    ... That s what the numbers in my previous post showed quite clearly: 52% didn t vote. That means that the turnout was 48% (47.94% to be precise). The Slovaks
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 4, 2004
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      > her son was working at the voting place, and he said there was less than
      > a 50% turn out for the elections.

      That's what the numbers in my previous post showed quite clearly:

      52% didn't vote.

      That means that the turnout was 48% (47.94% to be precise).

      The Slovaks have been quite conscientious voters. Slovakia's turnouts in
      parliamentary elections have been 70%-85%. This turnout appears to
      reflect the Slovaks' dissatisfaction with the present government. While a
      large majority of the Slovaks reject Meciar, they don't seem to see an
      obvious alternative to both him and the present government. Gasparovic's
      success must be ascribed to the endorsement he got from the major
      opposition non-HZDS party "Smer."

      By contrast in the US, where the president is actually the head of the
      executive and matters a lot, the turnout in 2000 was 51% of the adult
      population, 67% of the registered voters.


      Martin

      votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
    • Martin Votruba
      ... I agree, Scott. Some would say that because of the last 50, 60, or even 1200 years. The Slovak lands have not yet had a period of politics particularly
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 4, 2004
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        > disgusted and cynical about their politics because of the last 10 years

        I agree, Scott. Some would say that because of the last 50, 60, or even
        1200 years. The Slovak lands have not yet had a period of politics
        particularly concerned specifically with their overall economic and social
        development. Not that it was all bad, but it wasn't seen as "Slovak."
        "Politics" mostly meant "somewhere else" -- Vienna, Budapest, Prague,
        Berlin, Moscow (even Salzburg, if we go back to the 9th century). Now
        Bratislava is beginning to appear rather alien to the rest of Slovakia.


        Martin

        votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
      • Vladimir Bohinc
        Dear Scott, When listening to what the candidates were saying in their campaign I must admit, Meciar was the one, who made the best impression and his words
        Message 3 of 13 , Apr 4, 2004
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          Dear Scott,

          When listening to what the candidates were saying in their campaign I must admit, Meciar was the one, who made the best impression and his words made the best sense in regard to current situation here and future options.
          He gives an impression to be a monolithe.
          Vladimir

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Scott T. Mikusko
          To: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Sunday, April 04, 2004 10:14 PM
          Subject: Re: [Slovak-World] Slovakia - Second round


          On Sun, 4 Apr 2004, capt jack wrote:

          > I just spoke with my cousin in Slovakia, this Sunday, her son was working at the voting place, and he said there was less than a 50% turn out for the elections.
          >
          > capt.

          Yup, the referendum they tried to push for early parliamentary elections
          failed because they only got 35% of the voters and needed 50%+1 in order
          to make it valid.

          I think, in general, Slovaks are really disgusted and cynical about their
          politics because of the last 10 years. Hopefully it will improve in time,
          but it's hard to blame them for their apathy.

          -S


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        • Scott T. Mikusko
          ... Yes, but does Meciar really believe that or is he just saying that to get the votes? I find it hard to believe that he s really changed his skin. Although
          Message 4 of 13 , Apr 5, 2004
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            On Mon, 5 Apr 2004, Vladimir Bohinc wrote:

            > Dear Scott,
            >
            > When listening to what the candidates were saying in their campaign I
            > must admit, Meciar was the one, who made the best impression and his
            > words made the best sense in regard to current situation here and future
            > options. He gives an impression to be a monolithe. Vladimir

            Yes, but does Meciar really believe that or is he just saying that to get
            the votes? I find it hard to believe that he's really changed his skin.
            Although he tends to run as a populist, saying what the people want to
            hear, I wonder how committed he'd be to pro-market reforms, working with
            NATO and the EU.

            He was such a scoundrel when in power. A lot of people liked him, even
            when he was corrupt, silencing the free press, limiting rights, and
            basically tending to be more like the old hardliners from the Communist
            era. Well, that was the perception in the West anyways.

            Then again, one could make an argument that the pro-market reformers and
            pro-West centre-right crowd are just as bad!

            -S
          • William F Brna
            On Mon, 5 Apr 2004 , Scott T. Mikusko wrote ... This brings up two considerations: first, the same thing applies to any politician regardless of the country,
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 5, 2004
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              On Mon, 5 Apr 2004 , Scott T. Mikusko wrote>
              > Yes, but does Meciar really believe that or is he just saying that
              > to get
              > the votes? I find it hard to believe that he's really changed his
              > skin.
              > Although he tends to run as a populist, saying what the people want
              > to
              > hear, I wonder how committed he'd be to pro-market reforms, working
              > with
              > NATO and the EU.
              >
              > He was such a scoundrel when in power. A lot of people liked him,
              > even
              > when he was corrupt, silencing the free press, limiting rights, and
              > basically tending to be more like the old hardliners from the
              > Communist
              > era. Well, that was the perception in the West anyways.
              >
              > Then again, one could make an argument that the pro-market reformers
              > and
              > pro-West centre-right crowd are just as bad!
              >
              > -S

              This brings up two considerations: first, the same thing applies to any
              politician regardless of the country, and second, what right do we have
              to meddle in the internal affairs of another country?

              Bill Brna

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            • Vladimir Linder
              Right on, you don t have the right to meddle in the internal affairs of another country!! Howevermore people will go and vote now in the second round and will
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 5, 2004
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                Right on, you don't have the right to meddle in the internal affairs of
                another country!!

                Howevermore people will go and vote now in the second round and will make
                sure that Meciar won't become the next president as they feel it will be a
                disaster. So they will vote for the lesser of the two evils Gasparovic,
                also a communist.

                Vladi





                At 03:18 PM 4/5/2004, you wrote:

                >On Mon, 5 Apr 2004 , Scott T. Mikusko wrote>
                > > Yes, but does Meciar really believe that or is he just saying that
                > > to get
                > > the votes? I find it hard to believe that he's really changed his
                > > skin.
                > > Although he tends to run as a populist, saying what the people want
                > > to
                > > hear, I wonder how committed he'd be to pro-market reforms, working
                > > with
                > > NATO and the EU.
                > >
                > > He was such a scoundrel when in power. A lot of people liked him,
                > > even
                > > when he was corrupt, silencing the free press, limiting rights, and
                > > basically tending to be more like the old hardliners from the
                > > Communist
                > > era. Well, that was the perception in the West anyways.
                > >
                > > Then again, one could make an argument that the pro-market reformers
                > > and
                > > pro-West centre-right crowd are just as bad!
                > >
                > > -S
                >
                >This brings up two considerations: first, the same thing applies to any
                >politician regardless of the country, and second, what right do we have
                >to meddle in the internal affairs of another country?
                >
                >Bill Brna
                >
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              • Scott T. Mikusko
                ... Well, true it can apply to any country s politicians... including our own! It s not meddling in their intenals affairs, we ought not have that right ...
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 5, 2004
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                  On Mon, 5 Apr 2004, William F Brna wrote:

                  > On Mon, 5 Apr 2004 , Scott T. Mikusko wrote>
                  >
                  > This brings up two considerations: first, the same thing applies to any
                  > politician regardless of the country, and second, what right do we have
                  > to meddle in the internal affairs of another country?
                  >
                  > Bill Brna

                  Well, true it can apply to any country's politicians... including our own!

                  It's not meddling in their intenals affairs, we ought not have that
                  'right'... even though we do and have done so in many cases.

                  My point is, based on seeing the political history of Slovakia, I
                  woulnd't take Meciar's apparent change of tune at face value. If he gets
                  the presidency, the proof will be in his actions.

                  The real fight will be in stamping out corruption and cronyism in the
                  Slovak govt. I think the people want real leadership. Granted, it's hard
                  to be decisive when you are dealing with coalition govts.


                  -S
                • Martin Votruba
                  ... I agree, Scott. ... The Slovak President has no chance to do anything about it. He can just talk, should anyone care to listen. He is _not_ the head of
                  Message 8 of 13 , Apr 5, 2004
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                    > I wouldn't take Meciar's apparent change of tune at face value

                    I agree, Scott.

                    > The real fight will be in stamping out corruption and cronyism

                    The Slovak President has no chance to do anything about it. He can just
                    talk, should anyone care to listen.

                    He is _not_ the head of the government, just a ceremonial figurehead, kind
                    of an elected constitutional king (like in those European countries that
                    still have royalty).

                    The Slovak President has no business attending the Cabinet's meetings, has
                    no say in the cabinet's composition, no say in its policies, in the
                    country's defense... The Slovaks actually expect the President to leave
                    his political party when elected, and appear to be non-political,
                    non-partisan.

                    The Slovak Cabinet does not answer to the President -- it answers to the
                    Parliament. The Cabinet's head, i.e., the chief of the executive is the
                    Prime Minister, not the president. The Prime Minister's office is the
                    Slovak parallel to the office of the U.S. President.

                    The only political thing the Slovak President can do is return a bill
                    (drawn up by the Cabinet, not him, and passed by the Parliament) to the
                    Parliament for another vote.

                    But even that is much less of a deal than when the U.S. President returns
                    a bill to Congress (although it can prove troublesome given the
                    multi-party composition of Slovak Parliament).

                    In Slovakia, such a returned bill has to be passed by merely more than 50%
                    of all the Members of Parliament. To be specific, in the 150-member
                    single-chamber Parliament, it has to get at least 76 votes no matter how
                    many legislators are present.

                    Otherwise, a bill is passed by just the majority of the Members of
                    Parliament present for the given vote, provided that more than 50% of all
                    the Members of Parliament are present. That is to say that -- minimally
                    -- if at least 76 Members of Parliament are present of whom at least 39
                    vote for the bill, it is passed.


                    Martin

                    votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
                  • Martin Votruba
                    The NYT had a review of the Slovaks options in the second round off presidential elections comingg up this weekend. The article is below. Martin votruba at
                    Message 9 of 13 , Apr 12, 2004
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                      The NYT had a review of the Slovaks' options in the second round off
                      presidential elections comingg up this weekend. The article is below.


                      Martin

                      votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu

                      x x x

                      Past Haunts Future in Slovakia's Election

                      by Mark Landler, NYT 4/11

                      For this upwardly mobile Central European country, still in its gawky
                      adolescence as an independent state, this spring should have been a proud
                      coming of age.

                      Slovakia was admitted to NATO this month, after a delay of several years.
                      On May 1, it will join the European Union, along with Poland, the Czech
                      Republic, Hungary and six other countries.

                      But a ghost from its political past has reappeared, casting a pall over
                      the celebration and reminding Slovaks of the intractable pull of history.

                      Vladimir Meciar, the autocratic former prime minister who led Slovakia
                      after its split with the Czech Republic in 1993, has unexpectedly become
                      the favorite to be the country's next president.

                      On April 3, he won the first round of an election while the candidate of
                      the governing party failed to attract enough votes to qualify for a runoff
                      election on April 17, which sets up Mr. Meciar for a victory.

                      Mr. Meciar, a hulking former boxer with a charismatic speaking style,
                      turned his country into a near pariah state in the mid-1990's with his
                      virulent nationalism and trampling of human rights.

                      Crony capitalism rotted the economy, driving away foreign investors and
                      leaving Slovakia impoverished.

                      "This is a disaster for our country's image," said Grigorij Meseznikov,
                      the president of the Institute for Public Affairs, an independent research
                      organization in Bratislava, the capital. "He represents people who are
                      anticapitalist, isolationist and nostalgic for the past. He's not a
                      politician of the future."

                      Monica Benova, a member of Parliament from a leftist populist party,
                      likens Mr. Meciar, 61, to Kurt Waldheim, the former president of Austria,
                      whose past as a Nazi officer, and his subsequent amnesia about it,
                      consigned his country to a political purgatory while he was in office.

                      "How can we be sure he won't abuse the powers of his office, like he did
                      the last time?" Ms. Benova asked. "He's trying to sound different, but
                      it's just a mask. He's still the same person."

                      Mr. Meciar (pronounced METCH-yahr) won 32.7% of the vote in the first
                      round. In a surprise attributed to a low voter turnout, the governing
                      coalition's candidate, Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, finished third,
                      narrowly beaten by a former close associate of Mr. Meciar, Ivan
                      Gasparovic.

                      The runoff, commentators here say, is a choice between two evils. Mr.
                      Meciar declined a request for an interview.

                      In Slovakia, as in Austria, the presidency is mostly a ceremonial job. The
                      president can hold up legislation passed by the Parliament, which can
                      override his veto.

                      While he appoints ambassadors and senior military officers, he is supposed
                      to stick to the prime minister's recommendations.

                      As head of state, however, Mr. Meciar would be a symbol. It is a role he
                      would no doubt relish, having virtually personified Slovakia's birth as a
                      nation.

                      In one of history's wrinkles, the current Czech president, Vaclav Klaus,
                      was the prime minister with whom Mr. Meciar negotiated the Czechoslovakian
                      divorce.

                      Now the two leaders, each known for his bruising manner and deep
                      skepticism about Europe, may find themselves together on a dais,
                      celebrating the integration of their sister lands into Europe.

                      It is unlikely, however, that Mr. Meciar will be invited to the White
                      House. The United States is inclined to spurn him, said a Western diplomat
                      here, who spoke anonymously as is standard practice when dealing with such
                      issues.

                      European leaders may do likewise, although the diplomat predicted that the
                      European Union would not impose sanctions, as it did on Austria after the
                      party of the right-wing leader, Jrg Haider, joined its government.

                      "Brussels recognizes that the sanctions on Austria backfired," the
                      diplomat said. "The Slovakia of 2004 is also not the Slovakia of the
                      mid-1990's."

                      Still, for a minority of Slovaks who live in the isolated, rural east,
                      Europe looms as a threat. They fear that Slovakia, overshadowed for
                      centuries by the more prosperous Czechs, will be swallowed up in a vast
                      union its 5.4 million people a drop in an ocean of the union's 450
                      million.

                      "People are afraid of rising prices, of lower wages, of foreigners coming
                      in and buying all our property," said Stefan Lukacovic, 54, as he hurried
                      home through the winding streets of Bratislava's old town.

                      Mr. Meciar speaks to these disenfranchised people. They vote reliably for
                      his party, ignoring accusations that he profited from the sale of state
                      companies, or that he was involved in the kidnapping of the son of a
                      former Slovak president in 1995, or even that Slovakia was rebuffed in the
                      first round of NATO expansion because of Western distaste for his rule.
                      For Mr. Meciar's critics, the only consolation is that his voters tend to
                      be older, which means they are dying off.

                      "Some changes are not reversible," Mr. Meseznikov said. "He hasn't
                      changed, but the country is changing."
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