On November 22, 2018, the Institute for Public Affairs and Goethe Institute, with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, organized in Bratislava a public discussion Slovakia 2018: Country at the Crossroad. The event took place in the framework of a project of the same title, consisting of series of discussions of experts and the public on topical issues of social development in several Slovakia’s cities (Prešov, Žilina, Košice, Trenčín, Dunajská Streda).
The discussion in Bratislava was attended by lawyer and activist Juraj Šeliga (initiative For a Decent Slovakia, Bratislava), pedagogue, translator and activist Eva Lavríková (initiative For a Decent Slovakia, Bánovce nad Bebravou), sociologist Oľga Gyárfášová (IVO/FSEV UK) and political scientist Grigorij Meseznikov (IVO). The event was introduced and discussion was moderated by Michal Hvorecký (writer and essayist).
The discussants assessed the direction of country’s and society’s development in 2018 in the context of the overall movement that took place after the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová (mass civic protests throughout Slovakia, the resignation of the government and the departure of several members of the government cabinet, including Prime Minister Robert Fico, the investigation of several criminal - in particular, corruption – cases, the results of the 2018 local elections, the situation on political scene before elections of the head of the state and elections to the European Parliament in 2019). They dealt with factors influencing citizens’ attitudes to social affairs and the extent of their engagement in public activities.
Juraj Šeliga and Eva Lavríková came up with their own experience of working in the initiative For a Decent Slovakia - both at national and local level. They touched the background of some events associated with massive civic actions during the year. Oľga Gyárfášová and Grigorij Mesežnikov provided an analytical overview of developments in the Slovak Republic during several electoral cycles, described predominant trends in the area of power, governance, rule of law and equality of citizens, as well as the dynamics of political preferences and electoral behavior of members of different population groups.
Being asked by moderator Michal Hvorecký, the discussants focused on the situation in the cyberspace, especially on dissemination of conspiracy narratives about current developments in the country (for example, a narrative about the alleged effort of coup d'état with the support from foreign actors), waves of hate and offensive messages spread on the Internet and in social networks and focused on the initiative For a Descent Slovakia and many non-governmental organizations and individual civic activists. They pointed out the necessity of continuation of civic activities in order to mobilize citizens and to maintain the pressure on ruling politicians with the aim not to divert from the changes imposed by citizens through the protest actions.
Download: Invitation [pdf]