Policy Performance


Economic Policies

Despite steady economic growth, Slovakia receives a relatively low overall ranking (rank 31) with regard to economic policies. Its score on this measure has increased by 0.1 point as compared to its 2014 level.

Growth rates have been above 3% for several years, driven by external demand and household spending. Overall investment fell markedly in 2016, due to a normalization in public investment.

Unemployment rates are high but falling. Long-term unemployment rates are very high in cross-EU comparison, and labor-market participation rates in a number of groups is low. Labor mobility is also low, creating significant geographical differences in unemployment rates. A shortage of skilled labor for industrial production has emerged.

The corporate income tax rate has been reduced. The tax system has been reformed numerous times in recent years, drawing complaints about a lack of certainty. Deficits have been reduced to sustainable levels. R&D policy is underdeveloped.

Social Policies

With several notable weaknesses, Slovakia scores relatively poorly in international comparison (rank 32) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has fallen by 0.1 point relative to its 2014 level.

Underfunding in the education system prompted massive teachers’ strikes in 2016. A new dual vocational-training system has drawn only limited interest. 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 corruption in the sector widespread. 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.

The Fico government has sought to strengthen the public pension system at the expense of private pensions. The prime minister has opposed EU refugee-distribution policy, publicly associating migrants with the threat of terrorism.

Environmental Policies

With growth given a higher priority than conservation, Slovakia falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 18) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure is unchanged as compared to its 2014 level.

The country’s approach to environmental issues has been somewhat patchy, with weak implementation of existing laws. Energy demand for industrial production is high. Despite reliance on nuclear power, CO2 emissions increased in 2016. Air quality is poor by EU standards.

The country ratified the Paris climate accords in 2016, but the country is not an international agenda-setter.



Quality of Democracy

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 0.2 points since 2014.

Campaign-financing rules have been strengthened, but a new electoral commission lacks independence. Referenda rights are robust, though rarely used. The government uses financial and rhetorical pressures to influence the media. Media concentration is accelerating, and the rise of partially Russian-backed conspiracy websites is a new problem.

Civil rights are largely respected, but judicial integrity and mistreatment of the Roma population are problems. Demonstrations and protests have become more common. A failed traditional-marriage referendum has increased hate speech against the LGBTQI community, and the government has fanned anti-refugee feelings.

Political polarization and opaque laws have undermined legal certainty. The court system suffers from corruption, backlogs and government intervention. A dispute between the president and parliament has delayed appointments to the Constitutional Court. Corruption remains a problem more generally, with the new minister of justice focusing on the issue more than did her predecessors.



Executive Capacity

Despite some areas of progress, Slovakia receives a relatively low overall score (rank 34) in the area of executive capacity. Its score on this measure has fallen by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

The Government Office lacks strategic-planning capacities and sectoral policy-evaluation expertise. 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, but some major measures are not reviewed in this way. The current government does not regard consultation with societal actors as a high priority. Communication has been kept relatively consistent even in the new coalition government. While the previous Fico government met fiscal and employment goals, other major policy reforms have been carried over.

Ministerial compliance has deteriorated somewhat in the new coalition government, and monitoring has weakened. Local governments complain of unfunded mandates, though poor fiscal discipline is also at fault. The Fico government’s positions on Greek debt, Russia and refugees have undermined its standing in the EU.

Executive Accountability

Showing several notable weaknesses, Slovakia scores relatively poorly overall (rank 32) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point 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. Despite concerns regarding its chairman’s independence from the government, the audit office has been critical of government projects. 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. Online conspiracy sites pose a new risk.

Slovak parties are dominated by their leaders. Business lobbying groups are active and produce comprehensive analysis of reform needs, while unions are more fragmented. The vibrant civil society strongly influences public discourse.
Back to Top