The state of votes
Gorilla, a harmless animal against Slovak politicians
Adam Kundrat|translated by: Adam Kundrat
Gorilla, a time bomb on the Slovak political scene
Barbora Bodnarova| translated by: Barbora Bodnarova
Adam Kundrat | translated by: Adam Kundrat | 2013. January 15. 13:33
Since Christmas, the Slovak political scene seems to be affected by delicate information on corruption in the highest level. However, given the involvement of most politicians across the political spectrum, a reorganization of the police is hardly conceivable. The discontent of the population may not influence that at all.
Gorilla, the paper published on the Internet before Christmas which accuses senior political and business representatives of major corruption and of manipulation around privatization for the benefit of the financial group Penta, is certainly not the first and, unfortunately, not the last corruption case in Slovakia. On the highest level, there had always been suspicions, but there have never been any tangible results – such as somebody in charge being convicted and imprisoned
The authenticity of the action called Gorilla, performed by the Slovak secret service and that of the document by the same name is confirmed, however, doubts persist. It is not the form that causes problems but rather the content or the facts described in the report. Since these are transcripts of interviews, the words are not enough to prove corruption, which is why it will be very difficult to find clear evidence. Moreover, almost all major parties are mentioned in the document as those involved directly or indirectly; and both former Prime Minister Dzurinda as well as the leader of the opposition, Fico, can be found in it. A new, profound investigation is more than necessary even if the police and the prosecutor have already conducted several fruitless investigations without conclusion – knowing the document already existed since 2006.
These failures are due to lack of will to cooperate of the police on one hand and of the secret service on the other hand: this situation should apparently change in a short time due to the media and to new facts. One might also ask whether there is a motivation to sweep this matter under the table. The interior minister even speaks of a tacit agreement among the political elite: big business should never be clarified. Given the results of previous surveys, the efforts of the almost hostile judicial bodies to seek and find the truth and bearing in mind the danger the document could represent for most major players in the Slovak political scene, it is better to be cautious, even sceptical, of a radical change of policy.
This scandal, although taken into consideration by most politicians and despite having become the theme of the campaign, is beginning to stir up discontent among the population only gradually. The electorate has the ability to mobilize a change of government in a radical way, even unexpectedly, but it needs a pulse, a subject of discontent, like a government in place which is considered bad. Instead, the Gorilla case covers shocking, but rather old facts and has already lost a lot of its potential power to renew the elites, to make the change. In the present state of things a month before the parliamentary elections, it is difficult to believe that Gorilla could overthrow today’s political elite: almost all politicians and parties affected by the scandal are running for election and the new small parties claiming change do not have a real opportunity to redraw the political scene.
The pressure of the population is quite low, the few initiatives organized on social networks especially by the youth cannot help much, although this kind of mobilization should not be underestimated (bear in mind the Arab Spring). However, the majority who live in poorer areas show little interest in politics. Among the parties which are not affected by the scandal and which actually have a political significance, only the SAS (the Liberals) could exercise pressure, but the party was discredited due to its attitude to EFSF, which has caused the fall of the government of Mrs. Radičová.
March 10th will therefore show whether and to what extent the Slovaks want to change their leaders and replace them. The difficulty lays in the fact that the choice was not to be made between the parties according to a traditional division, but within the parties themselves.
If a complete renewal was to take place, the issue of future leadership would be rather uncanny. Especially today, in plain crisis, looking for a new hero comparable to de Gaulle can be very problematic. This does not mean that the best option would be to change nothing: on the contrary, it is absolutely necessary to resolve this matter. But at the same time, one must restrain from hasty and thoughtless solutions: instead of a savoir like de Gaulle, one might have to deal with an authoritarian figure.
Barbora Bodnarova | translated by: Barbora Bodnarova | 2013. January 15. 13:33
Apart from the kidnapping of the president's son, Michal Kováč, Gorilla is the biggest scandal since 1989. Gorilla is a monster which has awakened and which will not leave the Slovak political scene intact. It will lead to its profound transformation, forcing the biggest parties, compromised by this piece of writing, to face justice, while giving way to new political forces.
If before this Christmas observers believed that the parliamentary elections of March 2012 would be dominated by the subject of the European Union and the issue of Slovak participation in the rescue mechanisms for countries in bad financial condition, it now seems obvious that attention will be focused on Gorilla. In fact, Gorilla is the pseudonym of a mission of SIS who published a summary on the Internet. This writing testifies on the cooperation between the major political parties and financial groups in the privatization of the 2000s, which divided the country up like a cake. Once its authenticity is admitted even by the highest officials, Gorilla will become an uncontrollable animal shaking up Slovak politics.
So far, all parties named in the writing categorically refused to recognize its truth, calling it a forgery designed to discredit them. The form of the text which contains a large number of abbreviations and simplifications seems to support their arguments. In addition, it features some altered names as well as information on unrealized plans .However, is it not such limitations which precisely prove the authenticity of the writing? Why would anyone fake a product with such errors?
On January 19, Daniel Lipsic, Minister of Interior Affairs has confirmed the existence of the SIS’s Gorilla mission and that of written reports containing information on cases of corruption. The desperate way in which Mr. Dzurinda, Prime Minister during the time covered by the Gorilla document, responded: "Lipsic has gone mad!" should clear out any doubt on the authenticity of Gorilla. Gorilla dominates the scene with the terrible information it contains, like a black cloud covering the sky. Similarly, it will only leave after a storm.
Gorilla revealed dangerous liaisons between political and financial circles in a terrifying dimension. Indeed, the writing published on the World Wide Web mentions commissions, often exceeding one million euros, sent to political parties obedient to the interests of the financial group Penta. Moreover, this case discredits parties such as SMER SDKÚ, KDH and SMK, which together represent about two thirds of the Slovak political scene; among the names of the people concerned are not only that of Mr. Dzurinda, but also those of I. Mikloš, Finance Minister at that time, and R. Fico, Dzurinda's successor to the post of the Prime Minister. A scandal of this magnitude cannot remain without consequences; especially when incriminating evidence exists and is publicly known.
Gorilla is up to this day one of the hottest topics in the media. In addition, a large popular movement with an enormous potential for growth which demands the postponement of the elections until the investigation of the Gorilla case was completed, is being formed. Their first protest was held on January 26th during which they demanded the punishment of the people responsible for the crimes revealed by Gorilla.
Slovakia is preparing for a Crusade against its political class, stained by corruption, legacy of the old regime. Certainly, voters will eliminate the faces associated with the era of Gorilla from the political scene, giving way to new elites.
This scenario came true in Italy in 1992 under the name "Operation Clean Hands', when traditional parties have disappeared overnight and the political scene has been revolutionized to a point which made people call it a shift towards a Second Republic. More recently and more to the East, following the investigation of the Rywin case which proved the corruption of SLD, the latter has marginalized many of the Polish political world. This allowed the smaller parties, such as the Civic Platform and Law and Justice to flourish while introducing new morals in politics.
Despite its young age, the Slovak Republic has already shown its ability to mobilize itself and its commitment to the values of genuine liberal democracies. Therefore in 1998, the Slovaks have turned their backs on Meciar, who began forming an isolationist and authoritarian regime: support for the opposition helped to overthrow him.
The Slovak political scene today offers a wide variety - the number of parties registered for the elections in March has been the largest since the birth of Slovakia. SAS, the party founded in 2009, thanks to its experience with the government of Radičová has a great potential for the future elections, whether they are held this March or whether they are postponed. The other winners should be the smaller parties.
In an environment marked so much by scandal, it goes without saying that the votes will be mostly apolitical and moralizing. The living proof of that is the protest movement Generation 89, whose members have painted white a considerable number of posters of political parties discredited by Gorilla on the 23th of January, while referring to the ideals of freedom and democracy, in whose name the Velvet Revolution had sought to end a corrupt regime by its own power.
So far it is not possible to predict the effectiveness of investigations by the police. However, it is obvious that if the police do not punish the guilty, citizens will do so during the election. Slovakia cannot escape any longer its political renaissance, which will take place in the near future.
Adam Kundrat|translated by: Adam Kundrat
Barbora Bodnarova| translated by: Barbora Bodnarova
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