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Re: [Slovak-World] Slovakia - Second round

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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 1 of 13 , Apr 5 5:02 PM
      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.

    • 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 2 of 13 , Apr 5 11:31 PM
        > 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,

        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.


        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 3 of 13 , Apr 12 2:30 PM
          The NYT had a review of the Slovaks' options in the second round off
          presidential elections comingg up this weekend. The article is below.


          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

          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

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

          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

          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

          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

          "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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