Right wing commentary on world politics from a man on a mission to prove that Conservatism transcends national boundaries. Thoughtful comments from people of all political persuasions are welcome and encouraged. Contact the blogger at elephantman.conservaglobe@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

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.

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At Thu Jun 29, 10:05:00 AM MDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well i think a little bit of balance is called for here.

Robert Fico, the leader of Smer and likely successor to Dzurinda said that the Slovak people had shown their anger at EU-friendly policies that led to rapid economic growth without concern for their social impact.

“Fast economic growth will no longer be for the benefit of a narrow group of people,” he told reporters after Sunday’s vote.

“I will steer the country back to human dignity and towards a sense of social justice.”

Slovak unemployment levels are extremely high, topping 16 per cent last year, and many Slovaks believe they were better off under communism, according to a recent poll.

Although the growth is improving the situation in the country , being frisked for money when going into a hospital in pain (a Dzurinda reform) or multimillionaires paying only 19% tax, is plain stupid.

Neither the US nor the UK have such low taxes, I pay 40% tax in the UK plus all the otehr indirect taxes (in effect half my income goes to the government) and this has been like this forever in the UK...

A few years of Fico will probably get the development of Slovakia in a sustainable path, particularly if Fico keeps the corruption in his party to a minimum.

His promises to emulate Blair but a bit more to the left sound the right thing to do for Slovakia. I would have prefered Fico plus KDH and SMK, but it seems that this posting is rather ill-informed.
You cannot judge the politics and economics of another country based on western european norms. Slovakia needed to go a tad to the left.


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