Robert Fico is struggling for political survival. A week after the public learned about the murder of journalist Jana Kuciak, he criticized President Andrej Kiska, who wants to address the crisis by government reconstruction or early elections. “People are angry and the government responds in a rather arrogant way,” political scientist Grigorij Meseznikov describes the situation in Slovakia.
How do you judge Sunday’s speech by President Andrej Kiska?
I imagine even more vigorous steps, for example if the Prime Minister called for a resignation. He did not do it. He acted as part of his constitutional possibilities, took a political stance, and offered a solution that could be accepted for part of the political spectrum.
The situation has been assessed by the government for a week since Jan Kuciak’s horrible murder and has not shown a plan to bring the country out of the crisis. From the crisis of trust in state institutions, because there are doubts about linking people close to the mafia to political leaders. Therefore, it proposes a major reconstruction of the government or early elections. In my opinion, he proceeds quite cautiously. Robert Fico does not agree, but that could be expected.
In his speech, Kiska said that there is something bad about the foundations of the state. What did he mean?
He has named something that has long been pointed out by various experiments. We have selective judicials here, attacks by constitutional actors against the media, there are doubts as to whether the law enforcement bodies actually do their job and are not affected by policies. I suppose this was his heart. Apparently the head of state has information to further divide it.
How do you interpret Fico’s reaction by saying that Kiska’s speech did not arise in Slovakia?
It is almost like some conspiracy theories. Fico is genuinely convinced that people around the president are mainly oriented to the West and have links with some Western structures. In any case, Kiska’s speech was written in Slovakia, and the people from the presidential office even stated where they originated.
It is Fico’s attempt to influence a part of his voters who are prone to believe that Slovakia is deciding abroad and that Kiska serves foreign interests.
This is paradoxical, as Fico has recently presented himself as a devoted European who wants to bring the country to the core of the EU. And what can more affect the events in Slovakia than EU membership? This opinion is therefore fundamentally inconsistent with its earlier opinions. But it does not surprise me, because Fico is a prolific populist who gains people through such xenophobic, isolationist and sometimes conspiratorial thoughts.
Fico even accused the president of Monday he had secretly met with George Soros in New York.
It is clear that Fico is losing arguments and does not know how to justify refusing to take political or personal responsibility. So he sees Soros conspiracy behind everything. It’s nonsense, Kiska’s meeting with Soros during his visit to the United States is a publicly known fact.
Slovak newspapers openly write about the gradual fall of the prime minister. Is it premature to predict it?
Fico is trying to avoid such a development that would damage him, but I feel like he’s acting the other way around. For example, the banning with the appeal of Robert Kaliňák Makes him even more vulnerable. There is a strong political and personal bond between Fico and Kaliňák, and he fears that when he breaks, he becomes the target of criticism himself.
But he does not get away with Kaliňák in office. On the contrary. Now it turns out to be a good politician. It is said that Fico is very talented, but he has been getting worse since publishing information on the murder of Ján Kuciak.
Under what circumstances can Fic0’s government fall? The Cabinet has a majority of 78 deputies in Parliament.
The government may fall. If there is a mistrust in the parliament, which requires 76 deputies. Of course, Fico can resign, which would be more beneficial to him, because if the government falls and the president assigns it to the mandate to appoint another government, he will have a limited mandate. But when he resigns, the mandate remains full. Early elections require 90 votes in parliament to approve the Constitutional Act on shortening the term of office. There is no such majority in Parliament at this time.
What is the atmosphere in the coalition side of Most-Hid, which is to decide on March 12 how to proceed?
It will be resolved earlier, because it is inconceivable that nothing was done on the political scene, and the coalition and the opposition waited for Most to decide. The situation is clear, the request for the resignation of Kaliňák is so strong that he has to decide within a few days. The bridge becomes totally incomprehensible and no one knows what it really wants.
What is the position of another CIS coalition party?
At first, they did not set up any stance and only claimed that some sort of resolve had to be made to keep the government going. It is a party that is well connected to its ministries and it is up to them to stay as long as they can. But there are some signs that even in the CIS they understand that the situation is unsustainable.
How would early elections take place?
Direction would gain at least 20 percent. It certainly will not be that his support has dropped completely, but it will not be the 25 or 27 percent. It still remains the strongest party, but that does not mean that it would achieve such a result in order to create a majority government with other parties. In preferences, the second is in the rank of Freedom and Solidarity by Richard Sulik with 16 percent, OLEO has twelve.
What is the atmosphere in Slovakia? In Bratislava, due to the murder of Ján Kuciak, 26,000 people demonstrated last week. Is it a lot for Slovakia?
Yes, it’s a lot. The weather was frosty, about ten or twelve degrees below zero. Also in other cities, it was thousands or hundreds of people, almost in every district town. So I consider it really mass demonstrations.
Today is a lot like the era of wild mečiarismu in the late 90s. Do you see any parallel with the current situation?
The parallel is that people are angry and the government responds in a rather arrogant way. Well now, with Soros, mečiarismu reminds almost literally, because they call Soro’s a persona non grata.