Zuzana Wienk

    is a civic activist, director and co-founder of Alliance Fairplay, a Slovak non-profit watchdog that scrutinizes the financing of political parties, corruption, government tenders and contracts, as well as advocating for the right to information and monitoring the administration of justice in Slovakia. She lives in Bratislava. After studying journalism at Bratislava’s Comenius University, she worked for Radio Twist, Slovak public TV and the weekly Domino fórum. She has become one of the most frequently quoted representatives of Slovak society. “Anyone who promises to introduce fundamental change will have to brace themselves to being hugely outnumbered in their struggle. They will be taking on an octopus that has laid its hands on fabulous amounts of money and can now use it to bribe large numbers of minions as well as top specialists. It has infiltrated and taken over every institution, bar a few exceptions. It doesn’t shrink back from raping justice, abusing authority, eavesdropping illegally and playing sophisticated intelligence games. Those willing to liberate the state from its enslavement by a cohort of major and minor godfathers will have to prove themselves to be much more stable, principled and logistically astute. The situation is extremely serious and that is why we must place great demands on our elected representatives. We should demand that they build strong democratic groupings that generate leaders through competition. We need parties that can draw on an expert base and know what it entails to reform such robust systems of power as the judiciary and the police. The consequence of every politically irresponsible step would not only reverse painful reforms but also risk exposing agents of reform to insider bullying, discouragement or departure. After several rounds of political failure, the circle of insiders willing to improve the situation has become critically frail and further failures might prove fatal. (…) Continuous public pressure and falling poll numbers seem to be the only mechanism that can force politicians to rectify their behaviour. We can’t change their personalities and it would not be sensible to rely on the appearance of a saviour with clean hands. However, we can be consistent in setting standards and gradually raising the bar. It might take years for the majority of the electorate to unify in support of the rule of law and systematically rid politics of those who deviate from it. However, the slow journey towards this goal is, in and of itself, an important part of our story. Through it teachers and ice hockey players, builders and nurses learn to become citizens and leaders, feel their own strength and responsibility. Each of us has to live our own story, experience solidarity and a sense of connectedness so that we can link individual islands and form a larger continent. Our strength, wisdom and experience will eventually generate sustainable pressure for a strong government composed of quality representatives.”
    Photo: Tomáš Benedikovič / Denník N