Tuesday, 01 December, 2020

Slovakia’s Matovic: Europe’s Mr Ordinary prepares for power

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Media captionIgor Matovic was welcomed into business office by Slovakia’s president

“Who are you?” It was an uncommon opening gambit for what was the 1st foreign Tv set interview with the guy who is likely to be Slovakia’s up coming prime minister.

But it is a affordable one particular.

We know minor about what Igor Matovic thinks of something outside of the corrupt methods of some of his countrymen, so Czech Television’s rolling information community was appropriate to talk to it.

Analysts are speaking about a new period for Slovakia right after outgoing Prime Minister Robert Fico’s leftist SMER was defeated by this maverick anti-corruption activist and his Ordinary Folks bash, in any other case identified as OLaNO.

In actuality, the leader of the Standard Persons social gathering is nearly anything but everyday.

“For a extended time I lived a comfy lifestyle as a successful businessman. In simple fact I was paying the best taxes of any entrepreneur in Slovakia,” he mentioned, as the red, white and blue flags of Slovakia fluttered behind him in opposition to the backdrop of Bratislava Castle.

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Mr Matovic ran a regional media empire prior to getting to politics

“But at the same time I actually resented the simple fact that the revenue was probably ending up in a lender account someplace in Cyprus.”

So in 2007 he decided to indicator his regional media empire over to his spouse and enter politics.

How Matovic made a name for himself

He launched Standard People today as a civic initiative in 2010 and was sworn in as an MP – donning white trousers, sandals and a T-shirt – the same yr, originally for the centre-correct Independence and Solidarity occasion.

With his rhetorical aptitude and newsman’s instincts, his PR stunts ended up before long generating headlines.

To help a referendum on restricting MPs’ immunity he intentionally parked his car or truck on a pedestrian crossing in the middle of Bratislava the cameras filmed him displaying his parliamentary go to the police who were called to tow it.

As an MP, he could not be prosecuted.

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Mr Matovic produced a cardboard lower-out of Primary Minister Robert Fico in parliament in 2013 which led to a brawl

In the 2012 elections, now standing on his own as the head of OLaNO, he took a lie-detector take a look at to show he had not acknowledged bribes, and demanded his fellow candidates do the exact.

Quite a few refused, expressing it was insulting. He passed, and the party won 16 MPs.

But he reserved most his artistic ire for previous Primary Minister Fico and SMER, the social gathering which had dominated Slovak politics given that 2006 and a single he observed as the head of a hydra of corruption that was little by little choking Slovakia.

Stunts provided:

  • inserting a daily life-sized cardboard lower-out of Mr Fico, keeping a indicator indicating “Donated Slovakia to the Wealthy”, on the ground of parliament
  • along with get together colleagues, erecting tents in a winery owned by the prime minister and tenting there overnight
  • filming himself on the French Riviera outside a villa belonging to a previous SMER cupboard minister

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Igor Matovic/Youtube

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Igor Matovic posted a video clip in January outdoors a French villa, exhibiting him placing up a poster that browse: “Home of the Slovak Republic”

Mr Matovic and his colleagues stuck symptoms to the fence looking through “Assets of the Slovak Republic”. The online video has been viewed 170,000 occasions on YouTube.

Is he a significant politician?

Stunts like these may well have acquired him labels this kind of as “joker”, “maverick” and “populist”, but he has succeeded in attracting severe, highly regarded individuals to be a part of him.

“It is really a wholly various place when you are in opposition with one thing like 6-8% of the vote, and when you are the chief of a governing coalition,” reported Jaro Nad, former senior formal at the Slovak defence ministry and now a single of OLaNO’s 53 recently elected MPs.

“Even two or 3 months ago, when the initially polls started out to display that he might be in a placement to earn the entire standard election, you could immediately see in Igor’s deal with that now he feels duty, and that now we will see a various Igor Matovic,” Mr Nad told the BBC by phone.

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Zuzana Caputova, an anti-corruption liberal, won the presidential election last year but her occasion has failed to enter parliament

OLaNO’s total identify is Common Persons and Unbiased Personalities. But Mr Matovic may not even be the most vibrant identity in his have authorities.

What kind of authorities could he direct?

A single opportunity associate, Boris Kollar, potential customers a social gathering named We Are Relatives – a assert that may well strike some voters as basically legitimate, viewing that he has so considerably fathered a full of 10 kids with eight diverse girls.

We Are Household belongs to the Identity and Democracy group, the alliance of nationalist, proper-wing and Eurosceptic functions in the European Parliament.

France’s significantly-ideal chief Maritime Le Pen was fast to tweet her congratulations to Mr Kollar. If he does enter the Matovic government, it could be an attention-grabbing several yrs.

  • Slovakia’s president presenting substitute to populism

Mr Matovic is 46 – the exact same age as Slovakia’s President, Zuzana Caputova.

The liberal Progressive Slovakia bash she as soon as assisted to lead narrowly failed to enter parliament, and Mr Matovic’s coalition is probable to be more conservative as a consequence.

Definitely there will be inquiries in excess of the way in which he will just take Slovakia. The country’s partners – each the EU and its from time to time truculent neighbours in the so-known as Visegrad team – are without doubt curious.

“Simply because he will be the leader of a mainly conservative ruling coalition, Budapest and perhaps Warsaw will welcome him as a agent of identical trends,” Grigorij Meseznikov, one of Slovakia’s leading political analysts, advised the BBC.

“But I’m not absolutely sure Igor Matovic will be incredibly satisfied if Slovakia is dragged into some conflicts that Slovakia did not bring about.”

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