Slovakia’s corruption undermining democracy, fueling extremism


Thousands of Slovaks rallied in Bratislava on Monday to protest against corruption and demand the resignation of the interior minister over his ties with a developer under investigation for tax fraud, Reuters reports:

Slovakia’s economy has boomed and living standards have risen sharply since it joined the European Union in 2004, but many Slovaks say their country fails to defend the rule of law, especially in punishing graft. The protesters, chanting “Kalinak, resign” and “Leave our state alone”, carrying Slovak and EU flags, largely targeted Interior Minister Robert Kalinak.

“Public sensitivity to corruption is growing and the prime minister has also reflected it in his activities — he has appointed a new head of an anti-corruption unit, spoken at anti-corruption seminars but a symbolic closure is still missing,” political analyst Martin Slosiarik told Reuters. “Many people don’t believe justice is for all, they stopped believing in the principles of democracy, which has helped extremist parties.”.

The bitter lesson learned [in Brazil] is that corruption will remain a systemic threat until there is a thorough review of the electoral law and unless accountability becomes routine for all,” political scientist Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro writes for The New York Times:

Public financing of campaigns and cost caps could contain the overwhelming pressure of economic lobbies. The quality of representation in Congress may further improve from setting up an electoral threshold for congressional and state representation to reflect current demographic distribution. Unfortunately, all those solutions require Congress to take action, and congressmen have repeatedly managed to shun them in the past to prevent weakening their power.

Malaysian anti-corruption activist Cynthia Gabriel (fourth left) will be one of several anti-corruption activists whose efforts will be recognized by the Washington DC-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED), according to reports:

Malaysiakini reported that Gabriel was surprised over her selection for the award but was honoured nonetheless over the recognition for her efforts. Gabriel, who is executive director of the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) left for the US yesterday to attend the award ceremony to be held at Capitol Hill.

“The Democracy Award is a tremendous boost and recognition for C4 and the Malaysian civil society’s contributions to fight corruption and build a democratic society,” she said. “This is made more special at this juncture when the spaces we are working in seem to be dramatically closing in on us, and the environments in which we work have become more hostile,” she added.

The other five award recipients (above) are Khalil Parsa (Afghanistan), Rafael Marques de Morais (Angola), Claudia Escobar (Guatemala) and Denys Bihus (Ukraine).

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