Game of Thrones excitement has reached a fever pitch. The final episode of the last season is expected on May 19, 2019. A week after that the European elections will take place but it doesn't cause the same buzz and hot debate. And yet, it is much more important who is going to sit in the European Parliament than on the Iron Throne.

To stay in the line with global phenomenon which is Game of Thrones (GOT), European elections are coming to Europe, whether that means winter is coming, we don’t yet know.

Even though the Central European countries are closer to the Wall than Daenerys Targaryen, something has happened to the V4 societies.

Numerous analysts, scholars, journalists have claimed that Central European democracies are backsliding and turning toward illiberal systems with strong authoritative politicians.

There have been tons of papers and articles published, various approaches discussed and reasons defined in the past about what happened in Central Europe. The responses to the reality of true believers of liberal democracy vary from country to country, depending on how much free space they have to manoeuvre in the system.

They are struggling and desperately trying to promote themes and topics that suit these countries belonging to Europe. Sometimes they are lucky, sometimes they win the battle, but they are losing the war.

The faceless

And why is this? Because the masses are not listening, not because they do not want to but because they have neither the time nor the information to make informed decisions.

The comfort in their lives is more important to them than the participatory character of their roles as citizens.

The majority in our societies is not willing to understand how the complex system is working, and how they can improve it with new solutions. Their non-willingness is based on their absence from cultural discussions, and they are missing the basic nature of democracy.

Everything that has been achieved is thanks to the efforts of a few standouts who challenged the societal discourse in every crucial period.

In recent years, even these active members of the citizenry have seen their position weakened by “alternative” storytellers, conspiracy media and paid trolls, who have become the new force of illiberal leaders. The army is massive, and they can reproduce themselves even faster than the White Walkers.

In this madness, the European elections are coming, and the outcome will form not only our future in Slovakia but also the whole Europe.

So, what is the solution of how to defeat our White Walkers in Slovakia and Central Europe? In GOT they have Valerian steel, what do we have in our countries, what do we have in Slovakia?

A limited arsenal

The most powerful tool for the fight with our White Walkers is the truth. No, it´s not naïve; the victory of Zuzana Caputova showed the latent potential of this old convincing tool.

Zuzana Čaputová

People are willing to listen to the new generation of politicians who speak differently, and Caputova sensed this and used it to her advantage.

But will this be enough? I don’t think so; we need to promote solutions that respond to social problems. We need to identify the roots that caused these problems, highlight the responses and promote credible possibilities of how-to respond to emerging challenges.

The main cause of our misery is that, in Slovakia, we were not able to answer any challenges, rather we react on what is currently bubbling over from the pot.

Because if we were living in a world that responds to the social problems, the discussion would be on a higher level, above the social problems and reforms of the health and education systems or even the completion of the highways in 2020, 2030, or … ?

Just imagine politicians talking about social innovations and suitable development, about the reconstruction of national heritages, protection of our forests and improvement of life quality; religious authorities would talk about moral barriers in human cloning or the transplantation of animal organs into humans rather than gender issues or the sin of choosing to vote for a liberal and progressive president.

Between now and never

However, we are not living in such a world, where our political authorities attempt to actually answer the problems we are facing. The fundamental question these days is how to explain that the European elections are crucial for Slovakia, and why we need to shift towards themes that really matter and respond to the problems of Slovak society.

We need to, once again, promote everything that has been achieved with the help of Europe since the people have a short memory and tend to forget about the advantages of this alliance.

Actually, we have never been able to promote the successes of our membership in a consistent way. The achievements have always been used and misused for the benefit of the elites.

The absence of a positive permanent campaign was replaced by repetitive, short-term negative campaigns against our membership and against our position in Europe. And as in GOT, “a small man casts a large shadow”; fascists, trolls, xenophobes, nationalists have cast a big stain on the European heritage in our lands.

This leads us to the conclusion with a borrowed quote from Littlefinger that a lot “can happen between now and never”. We must protect the heritage of Europe in our lands, and we must act now without any delay. Maybe, these days, we will not be able to win the war, but every little battle is crucial for us Europeans.

 

This article is part of the #DemocraCE project organised by Visegrad/Insight.

Bratislava Policy Institute Executive Director


Central European Futures

Over the past several years, it has become ever more apparent that the post-Cold War era of democratic reform, socio-economic development and Western integration in Central Europe is coming to an end.

Visegrad Insight is published by the Res Publica Foundation. This special edition has been prepared in cooperation with the German-Marshall Fund of the U.S..

Download the #CentralEuropeanFutures report in PDF