Sustainable Policies


Economic Policies

With a growing need for structural reforms, Slovakia receives a relatively low overall ranking (rank 32) with regard to economic policies. Its score on this measure has increased by 0.2 points as compared to its 2014 level.

The first COVID-19 wave hit as a new government took power. In response, policymakers pursued a fiscally expansionary policy that included loan guarantees and sectoral aid. GDP fell substantially for several quarters in 2020, but then rebounded strongly, and settled into modest growth of 3% in 2021, hampered somewhat by ongoing global supply chain disruptions.

The unemployment rate had fallen to 5.6% in 2019. This rose to just 6.7% during the pandemic, with job retention and short-time work schemes playing a key role in moderating the increase. The crisis exacerbated structural problems such as a shortage of skilled workers and a lack of digital skills. R&D policy in general is comparatively weak.

A proposed new reform package would make the tax system more competitive, but would reduce vertical equity and entail revenue losses. The government’s fiscal deficit rose from 0.9% of GDP to 6.2% in 2020 and 7.4% in 2021. Gross debt rose to more than 60% of GDP in 2021. Both rates are expected to decline in 2023.

Social Policies

With several notable weaknesses, Slovakia scores relatively poorly in international comparison (rank 31) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 points relative to its 2014 level.

The country entered the pandemic with serious healthcare staffing shortages, which created bottlenecks in dealing with COVID-19. A hospital reform is underway. The country’s Roma communities were hit very hard by the pandemic, with some whole settlements subject to enforced quarantines instead of personal isolation. The general poverty risk is low, but regional disparities are substantial.

A comprehensive education reform is underway. Initially, pre-primary education has been made compulsory at age five, and investments in digital education increased. Many disadvantaged children lacked access to remote learning during the pandemic, thus increasing social disparities.

Women bear primary domestic responsibilities, with limited childcare available. The employment rate among women remains quite low, especially among parents. A proposed pension reform would reverse previous changes, eliminating the set retirement age of 64, and indexing benefits to average life expectancy. Integration policies have been liberalized in order to enhance labor migration.

Environmental Policies

With a number of difficult decisions still ahead, Slovakia falls into the middle ranks (rank 22) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.3 points relative to its 2014 level.

The current government has accelerated climate policy. A strategy is in place to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, with emissions dropping by 55% relative to 1990 by 2030. This is very ambitious, as the country has one of the most energy-intensive industrial sectors in the EU.

The country currently relies strongly on nuclear power, with more units coming on line. It has lagged in transitioning to renewable sources. It has not yet made much progress in implementing environmental taxes.

New laws address eliminating plastic containers, improving waste management and stopping the import of nuclear waste. Air pollution, solid waste management and biodiversity conservation all remain challenges. The current government has been far more eager than predecessors to work with the EU on environmental issues.

Robust Democracy


Quality of Democracy

Despite generally fair and inclusive electoral procedures, Slovakia falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 27) with respect to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points since 2014.

Formal campaign-financing rules have been repeatedly strengthened. A cap on party donations was imposed in 2019, with the rule evidently meant to weaken a specific new party. The new government has refrained from its predecessor’s attacks on the media, but parliament retains influence over the public media. The government is seeking to make media ownership more transparent.

Civil rights are largely respected. Members of the governing coalition have sought to restrict women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights. During the pandemic, Roma communities were subject to disproportionate and discriminatory measures. Many laws are passed in a constitutionally dubious fast-track manner.

High-profile judges and prosecutors have been exposed as part of a criminal network. A reform of the judicial system is underway, but is facing resistance by many of those affected. The Constitutional Court appointment process has been modified to reduce the governing coalition’s influence. Corruption remains a serious issue, and is a top priority of the current government.

Good Governance


Executive Capacity

With a number of notable weaknesses, Slovakia falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 36) in the area of executive capacity. Its score on this measure has fallen by 1.1 point relative to 2014.

The Government Office lacks strategic-planning capacities and sectoral policy-evaluation expertise. Line ministries draft bills with comparatively little substantive oversight. Informal coordination in the form of coalition-party meetings plays a significant role, but tensions have led to several coordination crises.

RIA guidelines are evaded through the use of fast-track legislation. The government has recently engaged in little meaningful consultation with societal actors. Government communication has been somewhat chaotic due to the broad makeup of the coalition. Anti-corruption measures have been implemented swiftly, but coalition tensions have slowed reforms in other areas.

Ministerial compliance has been complicated by the diversity of the governing coalition. Agencies tend to enforce regulations ineffectively and in a biased manner. Subnational governments have considerable responsibilities, but funding has been precarious. The presence of pro-EU and euroskeptic parties in the coalition has complicated the government’s international relations.

Executive Accountability

With a number of outstanding gaps, 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. The audit office has stepped up its oversight activities. Parliament refused to approve the ombudswoman’s 2020 report due to passages on reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights. The position of data-protection office head was left vacant for a considerable time.

The quality of media reporting is not high overall, but several news portals have increased in quality and expanded their readership. The growing popularity of Russian-sponsored conspiracy websites is a concern. Infighting within the governing coalition has led to an increase in political apathy.

Slovak parties tend to be dominated by their leaders, although several recently formed centrist parties are more democratic. Business lobbying groups are active and produce comprehensive analyses of reform needs, while unions are more fragmented. The vibrant civil society strongly influences public discourse.
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