The incoming conservative government

The conservatives are coming...

Bela Bugar ----- Jan Figel-----Iveta Radicova--Richard Sulik

Generally a fairly centrist lot, the christian party (KDH) is the most left wing of the coalition, Then its the hungarian/slovak party of Most HID. Jan Figel of the christian party, Iveta Radicova of the SDKU which is the largest party of the coalition and which will be ruling, and finally Richard Sulik the inventor of the 19% tax in Slovakia when he was working for SDKU in the 90s and 00s.

I feel that this government needs to be aware of how many of the certainties of the 90es in economics are being challenged and have changed. They need to show that they have understood that the broad based employee-class prosperity must not be hurt because that underpins the country's economy.

Tight and conservative regulation of the banks is also vital.

leftish SMER might face split in opposition...

A briefing on what is going on in Slovakia:

  1. Slovakia has a very open economy, its economy went though a big change of fortunes during the crisis due to the cyclicality of cars and other consumer goods Slovakia produces.
  2. The policies of the left have not hurt the slovak economy (if anything they provided a keynesian soft landing from the shock of the turmoil since 2008 and the gas crisis). SMER may have been barking up the wrong tree with some pet projects, but the economy is again revving up even before the election.
  3. The economy here in Bratislava has fared much better than any place i can think of, nation debt is only 36% of GDP which is the lowest in the eurozone, even Finland's...(44%). The economy is actually roaring ahead by conventional standards 3.4 is now being revised to 3.7% gdp growth for 2010, and within six months or so Slovakia will be flirting with 5% gdp growth again. It is going to be much faster than any comparable EU member and certainly fastest in the eurozone.
  4. Some in the right claim that Fico destroyed the economy, that is just rubbish, he has been quite reasonable and cautious. He didn't fight corruption that is true, but the main economic policies are intact since 2000...they have delivered growth now the right needs to put the economy on an investment in infrastructure trajectory, use EU funds more effectively, and leave the labour code alone, it is moderate as it is. The big question is how the average Slovak can achieve higher salaries by making the potential of Slovak citizens shine through with even better education, language skills and a general modernisation. Crucially they need to cut bureaucracy.
  5. A woman PM (check out communist era pic...) will send all the right signals abroad, Radicova will act as a Slovak Obama for Slovakia's image.

Central bank of Slovakia forecast: Slovak economy will grow by 3.7 percent in 2010

and likely to accelerate further to 4.3% in 2011
positively steaming away in these days of no growth or negative growth for others...

Centre right wins

It seems that our predictive ability is uncanny

My concern remains at the insistence of the right to make hiring and firing  extremely easy. This is something that most decent societies take a moderate position on. It rewards unscrupulous employers at a time of high unemployment, and SDKU should not underestimate how much this might help to send them to opposition once again... If they allow again employers to keep employees as temps forever...

The mixed bag of results from the election mean the following

  1. We are likely to get the first Slovak female PM, ms Radicova (pictured) given that the guy hugging her is the leader of the hungarian minority party, chances are that relations with Hungary are going to be vastly improved
  2. Robert Fico (PM) is still popular by a united left of centre. His party resembles PASOK in greece of the 1990es to 2001. Corrupt to a certain extent, enough to keep itself relevant, and keep the right on its toes.
  3. The right has won the election in the sense that the 4 parties that form the right (Christian non-democrats, Hungarians, Christian democrats, SAS neoliberals) are fairly moderate and would provide a welcome counterbalancing interregnum for Fico during which he can reconsider some of his extremist excesses (not so much in policy but in style).
  4. Most of the press is anti-Fico perhaps overly so. The left should be respected and the country needs a serious newspaper of the responsible left.
  5. Preliminary results of Slovakia’s general election, released Sunday by the Slovak Statistics Office, are likely to lead to the replacement of Prime Minister Robert Fico’s left-of-center cabinet with a business-friendly right-of-center coalition that will try to improve the country’s recently strained relations with Hungary. (However the Hungarian side seems to be on a nationalist crescento of its own making)
  6. The new ruling coalition will likely include politicians who represent Slovakia’s large Hungarian minority, potentially helping Slovakia mend fences with its southern neighbor.
  7. Although Mr. Fico’s Smer-Social Democrats party came first in Saturday’s elections, taking 34.8% of the vote, it won’t likely find suitable coalition partners in the 150-seat parliament.
  8. Preliminary results showed the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union, or SDKU, with 15.4% of the vote, followed by the liberal Freedom and Solidarity Party, or SaS, with 12.1%, the Christian Democratic Movement KDH with 8.5%, and the Hungarian minority party Most-HID with 8.1%. Final election results are expected late Sunday.
  9. The new parliament will thus be dominated by right-of-center parties led by the Christian Democratic SDKU, and the Hungarian minority party Most-HID. This coalition of four that will also include the Christian Democratic KDH and the liberal Freedom and Solidarity Party, and will hold a total of 79 parliament seats, compared with 62 seats to be held by Smer. The remaining nine mandates will be in the hands of the extremist Slovak Nationalist Party, or SNS (who's vote halved and nearly didn't make it to parliament!).
  10. The Freedom and Solidarity Party (SAS) was formed last year by Richard Sulik, an economist who designed the flat-rate tax system introduced by the previous SDKU-led governments that ruled in 1998-2006. Mr. Sulik’s party, supported by mostly young voters thanks to its Internet-centered campaign, will be a novice in the Slovak parliament. Its agenda that includes the decriminalization of cannabis use for medical purposes and registered partnerships for same-sex couples is likely to face strong headwinds in this conservative country.

  11. Nevertheless the solid result of Mr. Sulik’s party, the third-largest grouping after Smer and SDKU with 22 seats in the incoming parliament, showed voters’ discontent with the more established two junior partners in Mr. Fico’s outgoing leftist coalition cabinet.

  12. Slovakia will have the first woman PM! A very good signal to be sent abroad. The Christian Democrats SDKU led by, run by Iveta Radicova, a sociology professor and a former presidential candidate, has long opposed Slovakia’s current labor regulations introduced by the Smer-led cabinet, which stipulate minimum wage requirements and limit employers’ freedom to dismiss employees.
  13. Talking to reporters in a live television broadcast in the small hours of Sunday, Ms. Radicova, likely to become the first-ever female prime minister of Slovakia, sounded upbeat about her country’s prospects.
“Slovakia chose the path of responsibility that will help tackle its current problems,” Ms. Radicova said, referring mainly to lackluster economic growth and high unemployment.
“We’ll again turn Slovakia into Europe’s tiger,” she said, referring to the country’s reputation during the double-digit economic growth period in 2007 and 2008.

This blog believes that Robert Fico should lose power in Slovakia

This blog believes that Robert Fico should lose power in Slovakia for the following reasons

  1. his government contained inappropriate parties due to their extreme corruption, both Meciar and Slota are not fit for public life. Although Smer is far less corrupt itself, it is still responsible for the conduct of its partners as it hand picked them.
  2. Slovakia is not drawing EU funds fast enough, that is a national crime.

We like SDKU warts and all, as well as KDH, SAS has a lot to prove mainly its deregulatory rhetoric and how it squares with the international financial crisis

Good news as the slovak voters seem set to throw corrupt Vladimir Meciar party out of parliament

A recent poll found that the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) would be left standing in the cold outside parliament’s doors with only 4-percent support. The party has anything but lived up to its name, it is a corrupt personal fiefdom of Vladimir Meciar and it is about to be booted out of parliament.

Just one day earlier the Agency for Research of Public Opinion (AVVM) published its own poll, reporting similar results for Smer, SDKÚ, KDH, SaS, Most-Híd and SNS. But according to the AVVM poll, SMK would join HZDS in the club of also-rans after the 2010 election.

That result, however, was not affirmed in a poll conducted by the Focus agency released on May 20 in which Smer polled just over 35 percent and all eight of the aforementioned parties made it over the 5-percent threshold.

Ján Baránek, an analyst with the Polis polling agency, said that the polls show as many as four parties swimming in very dangerous waters: SNS, HZDS, SMK and Most-Híd.

“As far as I can remember, it’s a situation we haven’t had before, prior to a parliamentary election, and that complicates any reflections and deductions about the [composition of] the future parliament, not even mentioning the future government,” Baránek said

Martin Slosiarik, an analyst with the Focus agency, pointed out that the results of polls published in late May do not yet reflect voters’ perceptions and decision-making flowing from the controversy over Hungary’s dual citizenship legislation and the increased tensions that have entered the Slovak election campaign and are becoming a leading topic.

“This could considerably move voter’s preferences, but we do not yet have polls that show which parties could gain from it and which could lose,” he said.

Eyes on HZDS

Analysts agree that Smer is sure to capture the most votes in the election but what is less certain is its ability to team up with other parties who cross the threshold to form a ruling coalition in the next parliamentary term. Baránek says that Smer might be quite concerned about such a scenario, noting that this is probably why it has started even tougher, more negative campaigning.

“But the biggest threat lies in HZDS not making it into parliament,” Baránek said, adding that Smer, even with its high percentage, might have serious problems forming a government without HZDS taking at least some seats in parliament.

Will HZDS be able to climb over the threshold? That, according to Slosiarik, is one of the major questions to be decided in the election, one which the polls cannot answer.

“HZDS’ electorate has been tunnelled by Smer; it succeeded in attracting some portion of their voters,” Slosiarik told The Slovak Spectator, adding that HZDS does not have the potential to attract new voters and can only depend on support from its most faithful supporters. Slosiarik hypothesises that a low voter turnout, which could reach a historic low of about 50 percent, would aid HZDS.

On the other hand Slosiarik notes that SNS could benefit from the controversy over Hungary’s dual citizenship law, a factor not yet reflected in the recent polls.

“Preferences for SNS are moving not far from the dangerous 5 percent mark and this is what can now mobilise their potential voters,” said Slosiarik, adding that even a double-digit result for SNS would not surprise him.

Right hopes for a Czech scenario

The most recent polls confirm a strengthening position for Slovakia’s centre-right parties. Their hopes were also raised after the Czech parliamentary election lifted that country’s centre-right parties, including two newcomers to the political scene, who together received enough votes to outpace the ruling social democratic party. Despite the Czech Social-Democratic Party (ČSSD) capturing over 22 percent of the votes, it seemed clear that the next government would be formed by three centre-right parties. This result represented a significant drop in support for ČSSD, since it had received 32 percent of the vote in the last election, in 2006, Czech Radio reported. ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek announced that he will stand down as the party’s leader.

According to Slosiarik, there is the potential for the right wing of Slovakia’s political spectrum to repeat the Czech scenario on June 12 and he believes it is mainly due to the success of Slovakia’s centre-right parties and particularly SaS, a new party on the Slovak scene, to attract a large number of new voters.

“That possibility wasn’t there at the end of last year, but now it seems that the centre-right parties have managed to address new voters,” Slosiarik said, adding that a problematic question in this scenario is whether SaS will be able to actually mobilise its potential voters.

Baránek agrees that the phenomenon of what he called “the internet voter” might play a role in the election, meaning mainly young voters from bigger cities and from the middle class.

“We don’t have any experience with the internet voters, whether they actually really stand up and go to vote,” he said.

The success of the Czech centre-right parties, according to Slosiarik, was based on Czech voters actually voting for the parties they had expressed support for in the polls.

“In Slovakia, mainly in the case of Most-Híd, there is the possibility that voters will be weighing the chances of the party [to make it into parliament] before actually voting for it, considering whether their vote would be wasted,” Slosiarik said.

The analysts generally agree that the possibility of Slovakia’s centre-right parties repeating the success of their Czech counterparts mainly depends on whether all five of these parties – SDKÚ, KDH, SMK, Most-Híd and SaS – make it into parliament and what the final position of HZDS turns out to be.

The Hungarian question

Conflicts that erupted in SMK in 2009, and the subsequent founding of Most-Híd party by a group of renegades from SMK, have also spiced up the political scene in Slovakia. Two weeks before the elections, both ‘Hungarian parties’ are struggling to attract enough support to cross the 5 percent threshold and analysts are reluctant to definitively evaluate their chances. Both Baránek and Slosiarik said they believe that at least one of these parties will be in parliament after the election.

“Higher turnout helps Most-Híd, while lower turnout helps SMK,” Baránek said, explaining the possibilities.

SMK, as the traditional ‘Hungarian party’ with what is thought to be a stronger core electorate, could benefit from the dual citizenship controversy, as Slosiarik says it represents tradition for ethnic Hungarians.

“In the case of Most-Híd, it’s all up to the Slovak part of that party’s electorate, whether they transfer their declarations of support in the polls into an actual election turnout,” Slosiarik said.