This week’s word might seem a little late for you, since our U.S. partners already experienced elections last week. Here in Kosice they’re occurring this week. The word for elections is…
The elections taking place this week are for city mayors, city council, and local/regional representatives. Like many of you, we’ve been seeing billboards and hearing advertisements for weeks – smiling faces, clever slogans, promises for change. Some of the wealthier candidates are giving out pens, calendars and magnets with their face and logo. Others have volunteers going door-to-door, or walking up and down the main street doing “surveys” (you know what that means).
These candidates are campaigning on lots of the same issues you’ve probably seen recently: More jobs, better jobs. More repairs needed in the city. Family values. Honesty in public policies and dealings. Some of the issues are a little different: Some of the candidates are playing on the public’s unease with happenings in the European Union (of which Slovakia is a part). And in a multi-party political system, political affiliation is a bit more complicated.
Of great interest to us, of course, are the ways the candidates are responding to the Roma community. Some candidates ignore these issues completely (at least publicly), others tread carefully, while a very few are promising to tackle the “problems” head-on. Tensions are high, and you can feel it on the streets – we’ve noticed a change in the way Roma and Slovaks react to one another here in Kosice.
We ask for your prayers this week – that these people would elect leaders who will work for justice and peace. The road to peace and understanding is difficult, and the politicians aren’t the ones who will make the most important steps… but they are setting the tone of the conversation, and a person in an important office can destroy a lot of progress with just a few words.