‘To disruption and beyond’ — Slovakia’s recent referendum
i.e. on what and why did Slovakia have a referendum on January 21st
In order to build, first you must demolish. Although I can see why some people might struggle to see the reason, this rule does not only apply to engineering and construction but very much applies to politics. And the referendum in Slovakia that took place on the weekend of January 21st is a prime example of this.
Most times, though, referendums do not serve this purpose with such an open agenda. The “three yes social referendum” in Hungary in 2008 or the Brexit vote in 2016 (which was a classic case of shooting oneself in the foot… but anyway let’s not get into it now) and many others, they all had a nice cover story to it. The goal, however, was pretty much the same: disrupt, shake things up, and change the status quo. In Slovakia, though, Robert Fico and his party (SMER — Direction — Slovak Social Democracy, which, unlike his name, has not much to do with socialism, or the left) did not even care that much to find a cover story for it. The goal is simple: I want things to be different, I want the status quo to be changed, I want elections now, and I don’t want to wait out the full four years. The question asked was: “Do you agree that the early termination of the election period of the National Council of the Slovak Republic can be carried out by a referendum or a resolution of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, namely by changing the Constitution of the Slovak Republic?”. What this long and quite complicated sentence essentially means: would you like snap elections can be called in the future, thereby ending the term early of an elected parliament, if a referendum or a parliamentary resolution is carried out successfully to do that? It must be mentioned though, that out of the 2 proposed questions, the other one was actually blocked by the Supreme Court, which was supposed to be even blunter: the government should resign.