View of St. Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava © Alexander Brueggemann (KNA)
"Bridge of National Uprising" and satellite town of Petrzalka – legacies of communist times © Alexander Bruggemann (KNA)
Elections in Slovakia on Saturday. A new election victory of Prime Minister Fico's left-wing populist Smer is very likely. The Christian situation is divided.
Unlike in previous elections in Slovakia, the Catholic Church, which is influential there, is staying out of the election campaign for the current parliamentary elections. They are content with the usual calls to cast one's vote and to scrutinize the candidates for their ethical convictions and conduct. The reason: Not least as a result of the fragmentation of the Christian camp, there is probably no question that the left-wing populist party Smer of Prime Minister Robert Fico, which has ruled alone since 2012, will once again win the elections by a large margin.
It remains open with whom the party and government leader would like to form a coalition if necessary. National-Slovak circles Fico appeals to by rejecting refugee quotas, Christian ones by focusing on persecuted Christians. Both the Slovak National Party (SNS) of Andrej Danko and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) of former EU commissioner and current deputy parliamentary president Jan Figel are considered possible partners of Smer.
Refugee policy: interaction between church and government
Church and government have cooperated in the recent granting of asylum to 149 Iraqi Christians. But neither side wants to go beyond that.
Bratislava's Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky always stresses that taking in refugees should not upset the balance of society. Statements by head of government Fico, such as that he does not want a separate Islamic community or separate baths for Muslims in Slovakia, are not commented on by the church.
Discussion about health care
Only one controversy between the church and the government has arisen so far in the election campaign over a matter that has recently unplannedly overshadowed the refugee ie: the strikes by thousands of nurses. The fact that the Greek Catholic auxiliary bishop in Presov, Milan Lach, who heads the Department for Pastoral Care and Health Care in the Bishops' Conference, clearly sided with the striking nurses secured him sympathy ratings from the public.
Lach published a memorandum criticizing the plight of Slovakia's health care system. He justified his unusually open partisanship by saying that one must obey God and conscience more than the government – which naturally displeased Fico very much. The public perception is different: Of the Slovak bishops, only the deposed Archbishop of Trnava, Robert Bezak, had such a high approval rating as the young auxiliary bishop.
Fico suspected a KDH election campaign behind Salmon's appearance. The Bishops' Conference, in turn, felt compelled to endorse the advance of the brother bishops. The fact that she did so only with cautious formulations, however, earned her a scolding from the media.
"Fools tell the truth"
Attention was paid to whether the movement around the 2015 "Referendum for the Family" would develop into a political party. The referendum did not have the desired success due to low participation, but its main organizer, Anton Chromik, was also credited by his opponents with political skills. On the first anniversary of the referendum, the lawyer has now spoken out again and announced that he will continue to vigorously defend the goals of the "Alliance for the Family". But he does not want to get involved in party politics.
Anna Veresova, head of the association "Yes to Life" and spokeswoman of the "Alliance" with Chromik, has entered politics directly. The 51-year-old, who is also firmly anchored in Christian lay associations, is running for the promising seventh place in the "Ordinary People and Independent Personalities" party (OLaNO).
Asked about the colorful personality of party leader Igor Matovic, Veresova said she knew from fairy tales "that the fool with the king was often the only one who spoke the truth". In parliament, the mother of five children wants above all to prevent the registered partnership of homosexuals. But she also made people sit up and take notice with her view that Slovakia, with 10.000 refugees can cope without further ado.