Feature

Slovakia: A new era of power for the Left

For the first time since the fall of communism, Slovakia will be ruled by a single party, not a coalition.

Juraj MarusiakPravda Bratislava

Be careful what you wish for, said Juraj Marusiak. Robert Fico led his social-democratic Smer party to such a decisive victory in Slovakia’s parliamentary elections that he will quickly find himself alone at the top. For the first time since the fall of communism in 1989, Slovakia will be ruled by a single party, not a coalition. The center-left Smer, in fact, came within seven seats of capturing the three-fifths majority necessary to alter the constitution. So Fico has an “unprecedented chance to shape government policy to his liking.” He will be able to implement progressive taxation and shore up state control over the health-care system. But he may be tempted to go further and “colonize all state structures,” including the civil service, state-owned enterprises, and state media. And that’s where the danger of corruption lies. The success of Smer owes much to Slovak disgust over the revelations of the “Gorilla” corruption scandal, named after the wiretapping operation that revealed that most major parties had taken bribes in exchange for lucrative public contracts. Fico should be mindful of the lesson embedded in his own success. “If corruption and the arrogance of power exceed tolerable levels,” the legitimacy of the new government “could be shattered virtually overnight.”

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