Mayor of B. 1990–: 5 September 2001.
Marián Korba, Pavol Ďugoš (members of VPN district council in Humenné 1990–91) and Ján Miško (VPN activist in Humenné): 6 September 2001.
Ján Hacaj (VPN activist in Pezinok, MP for VPN in federal parliament, founding member of SKOI): 12 September 2001.
Zuzana Dzivjáková (co-opted mayor of Humenné, 1990, defeated mayoral candidate for VPN in 1990 local elections): 13 September 2001.
A reasonable argument can be made that this was indeed de facto one of the 'revolutionary demands' of ordinary Czechs and Slovaks after 1989. The very concept of 'participation' in political life undoubtedly carried many negative connotations from the communist era, and the hope for a functional, effective, expert-administered and non-corrupt state apparatus, which would enable citizens to enjoy the right of non-participation, was self-evident: if one of the things people minded about the communist regime was lack of personal freedom, then a political settlement involving a withdrawal from each other on the part of both state and citizen was one of the qualitative life improvements they registered after 1989. Public opinion surveys offer some evidence that both Czech and Slovak populations favoured a representative or 'communicative' form of democracy rather than a participative one (Miháliková 1996:425–6).
In 1995 Wisla Surazska from the University of Bergen and Harald Baldersheim from the University of Oslo launched a project designed to record the experiences of mayors and councillors who had participated in the renewal of elected local self-government in three post-communist countries. In cooperation with colleagues from Czech, Slovak and Polish universities or academies of sciences, 65 Czech, 40 Polish and 25 Slovak memoirs were collected (responses to advertisements placed in local government periodicals and daily newspapers). Following their initial assessment prizes were awarded to the best contributions from each country, but a planned English publication never materialised. Nevertheless the memoirs represent a valuable archive on the rebirth of local democracy, accessible to researchers both in Bergen and in the countries studied (Z. Vajdová, Moderní obec no. 51, 1995:23; Ľ. Malíková and J. Buček, Obecné noviny no. 44, 1995:15).
All quotations are from the interviews listed at the end of the chapter. Anonymity is maintained in the case of interviewees contacted through the Learning Democracy project, since such a commitment was given to participants by the project managers.
SZOPK was an environmental NGO, perhaps the most independent social organisation legally operating in Slovakia in the 1980s. For an account of its history see Huba in this volume.
The experience of VPN Pezinok was similar – appointments to the state administration, including the chairman of the district national committee, were made according to criteria of expertise rather than moral credentials, on the reasoning that an inexperienced person 'would be destroyed in that environment', but later many of these appointees 'began to act like their predecessors, turned against us, made pacts with communists, failed to push through changes and eventually joined HZDS' (interview with Ján Hacaj).