I find the level at which there is a campaign (mainly by Americans which makes me wonder about who pays these people) to discredit and fight the normal transition from left to right and from right to left in this central european country.
Granted, I dont like Jan Slota or Vladimir Meciar AT ALL. But these people seem to have peripheral roles now, they are not even in the goverment themselves, Slota got 3 ministers with the most important one being in education. Generally speaking this is obviously not a good idea, but it only comes after 8 years of an ethnic hungarian party pushing through rather challenging policies. For example kids in areas where Hungarians live are taught in the Hungarian language! This is something most sovereign states would not permit. Imagine american kids of mexican ancestry getting mexican schools funded by the taxpayer. I have nothing against the Hungarians of Slovakia, but they enjoy rights very few minorities enjoy anywhere in the world...
(in the USA it would be the equivalent of a mexican party branding itself as such, I BET that this would cause a furore... - although multi-party democracy in the US is ahem unheard of, -that is right folks we just need 2 parties no more just one party state + 1 with not particularly different policies than the republicans... but I digress...)
Slota's success may in fact be a response to the extreme success of the hungarian SMK party in Slovakia. Tolerance of difference is one thing, but having policies aimed at a future change of borders and a great hungary is another.
Under EU all of these things are also rendered rather irrelevant, so over time this will cease to be a problem. Maybe this is the last gasp of nationalism which is going to be reduced as poverty is also reduced.
SNS' Jan Slota is obviously a moron, just like Jorg Haider in neighbouring Austria. The similarities don't end in that their role is to prop up a coalition. They also both represent the forgotten rural mountainous regions that feel very neglected in both countries, and in a sense reflects also the substantial moronic contigent in the respective countries. The reason that the American political system seek to absorb all political views in 2 political parties, is because in these august united states probably the extremeist gun-totting morons could form a government without needing any moderates to coalesce with. The bible-belt of inbreds has after all managed to get one of its own to be president, which means that lobbyists and special interests have had an extremely good run as he doesnt understand much and that is hardly a model to follow.
So by comparison, Slovakia is like a teeniebopper, has a very similar development with Austria (which is not exactly a model to be ashamed of since the war), is keeping all the promises of the previous goverment to international institutions and the EU.
I do not find that the overall direction of Slovakia now is on a bad path and i have no reason to believe so. Meciar is a dinosaur who is desperate to cling on and Slota well he is a drunk and an idiot, but Fico seems to just want to use their votes and then let them die away as political groupings.
Particularly for Slota and SNS, goverment is the kiss of death, as their fiery rhetoric is depleted by the realities of government. Jorg Haider in Austria is now not likely to exist as a political force in Austria after 8 years in a coalition...
I emphasise that I dont like Meciar or Slota, but neither did i like the religious fanatics of the KDH (the Slovak Taliban as they are known jokingly in Bratislava) or the hungarian nationalists Dzurinda used as his partners.
Slovakia is a young democracy and it has very positive prospects in emulating Ireland's EU career almost as well as Estonia. Fico is ruthless, but so far i happen to agree with his slightly left-off-centre politics.
Let us not forget that in many ways Slovakia is much more neoliberal than any other European country at the moment, and the excesses of the right are simply being adjusted to the left.
Specifically under Dzurinda the excesses/mistakes were:
- such low unemployment benefits are not something one would consider remotely as a safety net
- maternity payments are laughable
- no incentives for couples to have children
- No effective anti-discrimination law
- under Dzurinda Slovakia was a card carrying memebr of the Bush invasion of iraq
- very anti russia diplomacy which was beginning to hurt Slovakia's own national interests (oil pipeline/Yukos etc)
- some stupid measures that allowed companies to pretty much behave as feudal overlords over their employees.
- Blindly pro american foreign policy with little to show for it (most of the investment came from EU) in some ways it was beginning to annoy fellow EU countries as they didn't much like the neoliberal cheerleader to their east.
I have to point out that for some american some of the above items sound as very socialistic demands etc etc. But in reality many of those things are seen as natural arrangements that promote a civil society in the EU as opposed to an anarchic bloodthirsty crime-ridden jungle (e.g. texas) that the US represents. All of the above would not be accepted in Britain even.
Slovakia therefore should not focus so much on the international criticism, but should actively kill the corruption that is still a problem, keep the public finances in good order if with a twist to the social state ambitions of any mainstream EU country, and never try to emulate the USA as its a socially failed state (of anybody doubting that they should re examine the scenes of the poor in New Orleans, when the flood forced them away from their tv sets and Oprah).