Slovakia: Capitalism Spurned
Slovakia is not a nation that many people are terribly familiar with. Since the demise of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the infant nation of Slovakia has been somewhat overshadowed by it's more prominent sibling, the Czech Republic. However, Slovakia briefly captured the attention of the world on Saturday when it elected a new government.
For the last eight years, conservative Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda has been leading the country closer to the West by implementing free market reforms and building good relations with the U.S.A. and the European Union. However, the Slovakian electorate tossed Dzurinda's coalition on Saturday in favor of the socialist Smer ("Direction") Party. Smer leader Robert Fico has vowed to roll back all of Dzurinda's reforms; and for a free-market capitalist like myself, that smashing eight years of progress toward economic liberty. (As a sidenote, it is worth noting that Smer is really nothing more than the remnant of the old Communist Party, which splintered into several parties but re-merged as Smer in 2005). Another bleak development was the sudden rise of a radical Slovak nationalist party (apparently built on a distaste for the ethnic Hungarian minority). This new party is now being mentioned as a probable coalition partner for Smer (which needs the help of other parties to form a majority in the parliament). Maybe it's just me, but the thought of a government run by a coalition of ex-communists and ethnic nationalists leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.
The Smer takeover in Slovakia is not an isolated incident, either. All over Eastern Europe, voters are rejecting liberty and capitalism in favor of a return to more socialist policies. Poland has handed power to the Law and Justice Party (which is socially conservative but economically socialist). Voters in Eastern Germany are also turning to the remnant of the old Communist Party, now known as just the Left Party. After years of Communist rule, the people of Eatern Europe are finding out that moving toward capitalism is hard work. A free market economy holds the promise of a better life, but it also emphasizes that one must earn everything he has (and it is also possible to lose everything). Unfortunately, the voters are now opting for the easy way out - a return to the days where the bare-bones necessities of life were doled out by a communist government and the pursuit of a better life was outlawed.
The choice for Eastern Europe is clear: onward and upward toward a prosperous capitalist future or a return to the days where everyone was poor, but they didn't have to work to maintain their poverty. Unfortunately, it appears that voters are choosing the latter of the two options.
Tags: Slovakia, Smer, Robert Fico, Eastern Europe, Dzurinda