"...European economic elites, who fear that Fico will undo some of the neo-liberal reforms introduced under Dzurinda, have also condemned the (governing coalition) partnership.
The trans-Atlantic connection, which was very strong after US President George W Bush’s visit to Bratislava last year, has gone strangely quiet. Fico made it clear in his campaign that pulling Slovak troops out of Iraq was one of his highest priorities. This has become a reality, as the upcoming rotation of Slovak troops will be the last despite pleas from Washington for their continued commitment.
Doubts aside, the new coalition has confirmed its commitment to its international obligations. And although Slovakia is withdrawing its troops in Iraq, Fico has pledged to continue to help rebuild Iraq by other means. Fico also has promised Brussels that his government would continue with reforms, including plans to adopt the Euro by 2009.
So for now, it seems that 100 days is not enough to determine what effect Fico's coalition of strange bedfellows with have on Slovakia's future, as the internal political power struggles continue to play themselves out.
Slovakia has been touted as a model of democratic reform for former Soviet satellite states. A stable rise in GDP, increasing wages, falling unemployment and continuing foreign investment signify success. However, internal political developments since the June elections have set Slovakia on a path that is not altogether clear.
Smer, which means "direction" in Slovak, should live up to its name. Arguably, Slovakia must mature and not be so easily swayed towards the extreme by following populist parties. The hope is that Fico will be able keep a watchful eye on Meciar and Slota, keeping their negative influence to a minimum while continuing to implement vital reforms and uphold international commitments.
Zachary Wieluns is a Slovak-based writer. He has a BA in History from Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire and an MA in Euroculture from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not the International Relations and Security Network (ISN)."