How it all started
I was sitting on a train, my eyes wandering around, when a sight of an aisle poster (usually an ad for tabloid press or spa) with a circle of yellow stars on a blue background caught my eye. Well, I had never seen anything linked with EU on a train before, so I even got a little excited; what could it be? I skimmed it over, and to my not-so-nice surprise, I found the name of our most popular (God knows why…) political group there. SMER – Social Democracy (”smer” is Slovak for “way” or “direction”). (This party has even been temporarily suspended from PES political family for entering the coalition with “extreme nationalists SNS”, Slovak National Party.)
“Right now we need representatives in Europe who can push through the interests of Slovakia and the social position of its people. Therefore every vote in European Parliament elections is important.
SMER [THE WAY/THE DIRECTION] against crisis”
Disregarding my strong dislike for this particular party (or, on the other hand, because of it?), I couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable about the main idea of the message—pushing through the interests of our country and our people. (In a “united” Europe where (and in hard times when) people should not think only about their own interests, where the idea of cooperation, help and common welfare for all the people is promoted…)
This made me do something I had thought I would never do without a gun pressed to my head: I visited a website of the party. With a grimace of disgust on my face, I looked up the election manifesto (called “Social Europe – a response to the crisis”) and got to read it (which didn’t really make my grimaced face look better, but moreover caused me a headache).
Let me share some of the points with you (translated by me into English):
Analysis of the election manifesto
“Today, we have to fight against economic crisis at home, in Slovakia, as well as collectively in Europe. Slovakia as a small and open economy cannot defeat the crisis, caused by a collapse of financial markets and fall of economies in Western Europe, on its own. What we need in Europe today is concentrated and coordinated effort to avert impacts of financial and economic crisis on people.”
Well, sure. They want to stop the crisis, and they realise the importance of coordinated effort. Let’s move on, skipping a few paragraphs:
“In a time of crisis SMER-Social Democracy confirms that it does not wait for solutions from Europe but actively finds solutions for the benefit of people in Slovakia.”
In other words: to hell with any coordinated effort, we are the only ones who know the solutions, and we will help our people; who needs Europe?
“SMER-Social Democracy MEPs are a guarantee that in these difficult and insecure times Europe will act as well for the benefit of Slovakia, for the benefit of common people.”
It is time that the arrogant and ignorant EU will start thinking about us, poor Slovaks, the last “common people” in a sea of rich countries, the inhabitants of a country where nobody has ever seen a 100 € banknote, where everybody is equally rich (or rather equally poor) and there are no millionaires and greedy politicians and the homeless and invalid single mothers sharing a studio flat with their two children, next to all those “common” people with one house, one car, and one summer holiday by the sea per year…
(Or is this a message for the voters: Slovaks, you are less than the others?)
“Members of SMER-Social Democracy will intransigently protect the interests of Slovak republic in European Parliament. From Brussels bureaucrats, from large countries’ egoism, as well as from defamation of Slovakia by some Slovak politicians [...].”
Does this need any comment?
“SMER-Social Democracy and European social democrats have to win the European Parliament elections so that our national/ethnical interests could never be ignored.”
No more interests and benefits of the whole Slovakia (with approx. 15 % of ethnic minorities)…
Well, yeah, we know there are these Hungarians, about 10 % or how much, anyway, too much… But they have their own political party, so we don’t have to pretend we care for them…
(Honestly, SMER don’t pretend to care or even like Hungarian minority—we can see it every day and it was particularly clear during the presidential election campaign, but this is too complex to be explained here…)
(And, actually, members of SMER surely realise no ethnic minorities will visit their webpage…)
And another bit:
“… in a similar way [the opposition] has acted reprehensibly in a fight of Slovakia against impacts of the world financial and economic crisis, caused by its political philosophy. The opposition hopes for the worst possible consequences just to break a neck of the government. Slovakia cannot afford such irresponsible and reprehensible politics in Europe at this breaking point.”
We are your saviours, the opposition is evil and cruel, they want to see all of you (”common” people we care for) poor, unemployed, and half-dead of starving, just to say unjustly the coalition is the one to be blamed!
And I could go on and on like this…
What do I try to point out? Above all, while the party is not clear about whether Europe is important for them or not, there is one more thing unclear: who do they really care for, whose interests do they want to push through? Is it the whole Europe? Definitely not. Not even the whole Slovakia. How about the Slovak nation? Nope. Only “common” Slovaks. But wait, not all the “common” Slovaks, they can’t be tolerant to national minorities, they can’t be supporters of the opposition, they can’t find the EU not bureaucratic and large countries not egoistic…
Keep your fingers crossed for us–poor, “common” Slovaks–so that we will be able to scratch beneath the surface, think carefully about what we really want and need, and realise the consequences of our electoral decisions…