Sustainable Policies


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 0.4 points as compared to its 2014 level.

The previous years’ robust growth rates declined to about 2.3% in 2019, hampered by slower growth in Germany and Brexit-related uncertainty. Goods exports declined in the second half of 2019. The business environment is losing ground, with competitiveness undermined by regulatory burdens, an unclear economic vision and a lack of innovation.

Unemployment rates have fallen steadily, reaching below 6% in 2019. Long-term unemployment rates remain high, and labor mobility is also low, creating significant geographical differences in unemployment rates. A shortage of skilled labor for industrial production has emerged. The government has focused on increasing the minimum wage rather than on active labor market policies.

Tax revenues have grown thanks to the growing economy, but remain low in relation to GDP. Deficits have been reduced to sustainable levels, thanks both to strong growth and restrained expenditures, with budget deficits hovering around 1%. Public debt levels nonetheless remain relatively high. R&D policy is underdeveloped.

Social Policies

With several notable weaknesses, Slovakia scores relatively poorly in international comparison (rank 34) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point relative to its 2014 level.

Education funding is rising, but remains very low in comparative terms. A dual vocational-training system has drawn only limited interest. Huge regional gaps in outcomes exist, and disadvantaged students show poor achievement levels. While health insurance is mandatory, quality and efficiency are concerns. A planned hospital reform was withdrawn due to political opposition.

The poverty risk is low, but regional disparities are substantial. The Roma community is badly marginalized. Women bear primary domestic responsibilities, with child-care provision limited. The employment rate among women remains quite low, especially among parents.

Pension-system sustainability has declined after a decision to stop automatic life-expectancy-indexed increases in the retirement age. The government has diminished its rhetorical opposition to migrants, and has eased foreign access to the labor market in order to mitigate labor shortages. Public spending on public safety is very high in international comparison.

Environmental Policies

With citizens showing growing sensitivity to environmental issues, Slovakia falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 29) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 points relative to its 2014 level.

The quality of environmental policy has slowly improved in recent years. The country relies heavily on nuclear power, with around 62% of the energy mix coming from this source, and more plants currently under construction. The renewables share has grown due to EU carbon-price increases.

A new environmental policy strategy sets measurable goals in areas such as waste management, air quality and habitat and species preservation. A new law prohibits logging in national parks and protected areas. Despite international recommendations, there has been very little progress in the areas of environmental taxes, waste management, wastewater and air quality.

The country supports the European Union’s 2030 climate and energy policy framework, and was the fourth country to ratify the Paris Agreement. However, it has not acted as an international agenda-setter for global environmental policy.

Robust Democracy


Quality of Democracy

Despite generally fair and inclusive electoral procedures, Slovakia scores relatively poorly (rank 28) with respect to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.6 points since 2014.

Formal campaign-financing rules have been repeatedly strengthened. A cap on party donations was imposed in 2019, with the rule evidently targeted at a specific new party. Politicians have a new “right to reply” if they are criticized by the media. The movement galvanized by the murder of a journalist in 2018 continues to push for civil rights and political liberties.

Civil rights are largely respected. Conservative forces have banded together to oppose LGBTI rights and “gender ideology,” and to preserve “traditional family values.” Discrimination against women, LGTBI persons, migrants, and particularly Roma remains a problem. Judicial appointments are politicized and polarized.

A Justice Ministry campaign to improve transparency and fight corruption in the court system has improved the system, but levels of public trust in the court system remain low. Numerous justices have been shown to be entangled in the corruption network led by the man behind the journalist’s murder. Corruption in general remains a serious concern.

Good Governance


Executive Capacity

With a number of notable weaknesses, Slovakia receives a relatively low overall score (rank 37) 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 plays a significant role, but has acted counter to official government action, leading to several coordination crises.

A recently adopted RIA methodology has not yet yielded the expected results. The government engages in little meaningful consultation with societal actors. The coherence of government communication has deteriorated. Implementation of measures contained in the government manifesto has been delayed or tackled erratically.

Ministerial compliance has been complicated by the diversity of the governing coalition. Many Smer-SD ministers have proved more loyal to the former prime minister than to the current officeholder. Various scandals have limited Slovakia’s access to EU funds. The Pellegrini government has sought to reposition Slovakia among the core group of EU member states, distancing the country from Hungary and Poland.

Executive Accountability

With a number of outstanding gaps, Slovakia falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 29) 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. The ombudswoman has strongly supported groups experiencing discrimination, while the data-protection office’s effectiveness has been limited by resource constraints.

The murder of a journalist and his fiancée has kindled greater political interest among a broad strata of the population, and spurred journalists to engage in more investigative reporting. The quality of media reporting is nonetheless not high overall.

Slovak parties tend to be dominated by their leaders, although several newly 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.
Back to Top