Slovakia

   

Policy Performance

#28

Economic Policies

#32
Despite a resurgence in economic activity, Slovakia receives a relatively low overall ranking (rank 32) with regard to economic policies. After a slight decline last year, its score on this measure has recovered to its 2014 level.

Growth rates have been strong, driven by private consumption and EU-financed investment. Exports have been weak by comparison. Dependence on the automotive sector is increasing.

Unemployment rates are very high. Active labor-market policies have helped cut youth employment, but have done little for long-term unemployment or jobless rates among the Roma and the low skilled. Following the reintroduction of a progressive income tax and a corporate tax increase, tax reforms have been minor. The government is seeking to improve an inefficient tax-collection system.

Steep deficit cuts have given way to gradual declines at a largely sustainable level, cushioned by economic recovery. Debt is moderate by EU standards. R&D policy is underdeveloped.

Social Policies

#31
With several notable weaknesses, Slovakia scores relatively poorly in international comparison (rank 31) with regard to social policies. After a slight gain last year, its score on this measure has fallen back to its 2014 level.

The education system is underfinanced. Policy is newly focused on the vocational education needed for the country’s industry-oriented economy. The poverty risk is low, but regional disparities are strong. The Roma community is badly marginalized.

Health insurance is mandatory, but quality and efficiency are concerns. Health policy has been erratic, with the sector experiencing spectacular corruption scandals. Women bear primary domestic responsibilities, with child-care provision limited. Family policy has focused on cash benefits rather than facilitating women’s labor-market participation.

A new minimum pension benefit will help reduce old-age poverty. The government has opposed EU refugee policy, stating that it would accept only Christian refugees. A new integration policy largely follows EU principles.

Environmental Policies

#17
With growth given a higher priority than conservation, Slovakia falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 17) with regard to environmental policies. After a decline last year, its score on this measure has recovered to its 2014 level.

The country’s approach to environmental issues has been somewhat patchy, with weak implementation of existing laws. A new energy plan includes use of nuclear power and hydropower, and will provide support for households to switch to renewable energy sources. Air quality is poor by EU standards.

Climate-change policy is in line with EU strategies, but the country is not an international agenda-setter.

Democracy

#27

Quality of Democracy

#26
Despite fair and inclusive electoral procedures, Slovakia falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 26) with respect to democracy quality. Its score on this issue has declined by 0.1 point since 2014.

Campaign-financing rules have been strengthened, but a new electoral commission lacks independence. Referenda rights are robust, though rarely used. Members of the governing party are often hostile to journalists, even severing communications with some outlets. Media concentration is accelerating.

Civil rights are largely respected, but judicial integrity and mistreatment of the Roma population are problems. Slovak media risk being sued for libel by politicians, hampering press freedom. While anti-discrimination laws are generally robust, discrimination against women, Roma and LGBTI persons persists.

Frequent changes in government, political polarization and opaque laws have undermined legal certainty. The court system suffers from corruption, backlogs and government intervention. High-profile scandals have reflected the lack of attention paid to corruption more generally.

Governance

#35

Executive Capacity

#32
Despite some areas of progress, Slovakia receives a relatively low overall score (rank 32) in the area of executive capacity. Its score on this measure has fallen by 0.1 point relative to 2014.

The Government Office lacks strategic-planning capacities. GO monitoring has increased somewhat, particularly regarding use of EU funds, but line ministries draft bills with comparatively little substantive oversight. Ministerial committees play a major role in the preparation of proposals, with informal coordination also important.

RIAs have improved over time, with some significant policy-area exceptions. The current government has not consulted actively with societal actors. Communication has been centralized, becoming more coherent. The government’s goals have been vague, with several specific reform projects being withdrawn or taking longer than planned.

Strong party discipline has improved ministerial compliance, and ministry monitoring has been expanded. Local governments complain of unfunded mandates, though poor fiscal discipline is also at fault.

Executive Accountability

#32
Showing several notable weaknesses, Slovakia scores relatively poorly overall (rank 32) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

Parliamentarians have moderate resources. Oversight powers are not always respected by the executive, and the government’s strong legislative majority limits scrutiny. The audit office has been politicized, with concerns regarding its new chairman’s independence from the government. The ombudswoman has been a vocal critic of unlawful action, but with little impact.

Disenchantment with politics has contributed to declining popular policy awareness, a situation exacerbated by the government’s selective release of information and paternalistic governing style. The quality of media reporting is not high, with ownership changes exacerbating concerns about political bias.

Slovak parties are dominated by party leaders. Economic-interest groups have sufficient resources to produce or analyze policy proposals. The vibrant civil society strongly influences public discourse.
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