Lessons from the Slovak elections: when a third of voters believe wild conspiracies, the country is heading for a crash
1. 10. 2023 / Karel Dolejší
In the end, Progressive Slovakia scored significantly only in Bratislava and its surroundings, Košice and Skalica. It will thus only have a say in the shape of the next government if Fico's attempt to form a government fails. However, there are no indications of this happening.
The main lesson of the Slovak debacle is that if you let the disinformation ecosystem in your country operate so freely for years that a third of the population gradually comes to believe nonsense on the level of the "flat earth theory", you will seriously endanger the very possibility of rational political debate and the strategic interests of the whole society.
The second lesson is that if, as self-appointed defenders of democracy, you put your own ego and ideological catechisms before functional and responsible politics for the benefit of the majority of voters, as key figures in the last Slovak political government did, you will open the door to power to predators of Fico's type.
The third lesson can be formulated in the way that Andrej Babiš will try to imitate Robert Fico as much as possible in the next Czech election campaign. This does not mean, however, that the Czech ex-premier will take up the political rehabilitation of the Slovak post-invasion leader of communist Czechoslovakia Gustav Husák, which would be a much harder task in the Czech Republic than in Slovakia, or that he will also become openly anti-Semitic.
Babiš I, who was in politics before the current right-of-centre Fiala government took office in the Czech Republic, nevertheless, like Fico I (who ruled until the Kuciak and Kušnírová murder scandal in 2018), tried to maintain a certain pro-European and pro-Western image, pretending that he and his private populist party run on the leadership principle actually belonged to the established European party families.
But now, like Fico, Babiš is putting aside all inhibitions so that only the naked desire for power achieved at any cost is left standing.
Arguing about how Fico I tried to look and function before he was removed from power, and denying what he is saying and doing now, is about as wise as drawing an equivalence between Babiš's 2019 image and the current one. The least that can be said on the matter is that both Fico I and II and Babiš I and II, these successive guises of two post-communist authoritarian populists, fundamentally disagree and contradict each other in many ways years later.
Let us also recall that at one time Miloš Zeman also purposely used a "pro-European" stylisation, which is completely absurd in the case of his policies pursued in the last ten years of his career. Or that the Hungarian Prime Minister, with obvious intent, purposely prevented the opposition's attempt to make leaving the EU conditional on a referendum, although many people still claim that Orbán "can't do without EU money".
The same thing is now being repeated about Fico.
And in two years at the latest, they will undoubtedly start saying the same about Babiš.
Who on earth could believe that an EU member state, say, for example, Britain, would set itself on the road to decline and loss of international importance by foolishly withdrawing from an organisation from which it has received considerable resources and benefits and which has amplified its influence?