Democracy is not dying everywhere, or even in most places. Here is an example from Slovakia. The action started just a few months ago and the people are winning! “He was so strong. Now he’s weak … I couldn’t have imagined this a month ago. It would have been so naive,” marveled a Slovak law student and protest organizer.
Slovakia’s prime minister Robert Fico was a tough guy who liked women and a rich lifestyle. His executive assistant was a former topless model. That model was, in turn, linked to an Italian businessman allegedly connected with organized crime. Reports of alleged corruption had been a feature of Fico’s administration but somehow people weren’t doing anything about it. Everything changed when a reporter and his fiancé were killed for looking into his finances. Tens of thousands of people decided enough was enough and organized demonstrations in the streets. Instead of becoming polarized or intimidated, other private journalists joined the case.
Some important public officials did their part too. In the Slovakian system of government, the president has less legal power than the Prime Minister. But the President can have strong moral power if he is a good leader. In this case, President Kiska was that good leader. He used his moral authority to help force Fico’s hand. Between the President, the unified press, and the people in the streets, Fico was compelled to step down.
A new government has been formed but the people are not yet satisfied. Many believe the state-run TV station is too close to the old regime. They are putting pressure on the government to provide objective, unbiased reporting. They are also continuing their rallies under the name “For a Decent Slovakia.” The most recent were held all over the country on Friday, May 4th. Outside the country too. They want to be sure that everyone who used their government officers for corruption are rooted out. They want “to make Slovakia a better, more just and more decent country.” (Photo credit: spectator.sme.sk)
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