At rank 28, Slovakia’s status performance has deteriorated drastically (-5 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
The leftist-populist Fico government that came to power after the 2006 parliamentary elections outspokenly challenged the Dzurinda administration’s euro-atlantic orientation in foreign policy and successful socioeconomic reforms, but left these reforms more or less in place.
Policy performance has suffered across-the-board losses in all areas. The quality of democracy has diminished considerably, and the global economic crisis has had more severe consequences than in most other countries. Despite the Fico government’s promises to improve social policies, ratings in Social Affairs have slumped in this area.
At rank 28, the quality of democracy in Slovakia has deteriorated considerably (-5 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
From 2008 to 2010, the Fico government continued its hands-on approach towards the media and the judiciary. Corruption and party-cronyism flourished as the government placed limitations on public access to government information. In addition, threats waged at foreign energy companies pointed to an eroding respect for private property rights.
Ethnic tensions and social polarization were fueled by the SNS’ inflammatory rhetoric distinguishing between “real” Slovaks and the rest (Hungarian and Roma). The 2009 State Language Act and the 2010 Patriotism Act in particular infringed upon the rights of the Hungarian minority.
At rank 26, a fall of five ranks relative to the SGI 2009, Slovakia’s economic policy performance showed a relative lack of ambition.
The Slovak economy was affected strongly by the world economic crisis, but the Fico government reacted somewhat haltingly. It adopted two small fiscal stimulus packages in November 2008 and February 2009, and relaxed unemployment benefit eligibility requirements only slowly.
Key reforms of the preceding Dzurinda government were left untouched so as not to risk undermining foreign investment levels, a previously positive economic performance and the planned introduction of the euro.
Although the government coalition parties had long criticized the tax system for a liberal bias and unjust effects, the Fico government confined itself to minor changes.
Slovakia ranks 26th in the SGI’s social affairs category.
The government refrained from prolonging the maximum duration of unemployment benefits during the economic crisis, and waited until January 2010 to relax previously restrictive eligibility requirements. Nevertheless, social disparity and (relative) poverty remained limited both during and after the crisis.
Pension and health care reforms progressed further than did other areas, but the government largely retained its predecessor’s core policies.
Social exclusion is a serious problem for the Roma minority.
Slovakia’s integration into the EU and NATO provides security, but Slovak-Hungarian relations have reached their lowest point in ten years. Slovakia’s rapprochement with Russia has also given rise to concerns voiced by affected states.
Accession to the Schengen Group in December 2007 has facilitated the professionalization of the Slovak police force and border control. However, corruption continues to plague the underfunded police force which in enjoys little trust among the population.
At rank 28, Slovakia’s record of resource sustainability is poor by OECD standards.
The Fico government’s performance on environmental policy was mixed. Long-awaited measures governing waste management and biomass use were adopted. However, the government weakened the participation of NGOs in environmental decision-making.
The volume and quality of R&D activities remain low. The government increased the share of EU funds devoted to the support of research and innovation, but failed to raise overall spending on R&D.
Education reform was one of the main leftovers from the previous government. The School Act was amended in 2008, but no major reforms were enacted. The 2010 Patriotism Act included a renationalization of education.