The puzzle of Robert Fico's governance is slowly being pieced together, and is connected to the nature of the administration. Smer is based on a neo-Marxist ideology translated into the EU context, and represents a return to the economic and social thinking of the 1970s. In their coalition with Smer, the far-right SNS has shown that it is in fact not anti-communist and the HZDS that it is not a right-wing party.
The government's facade conceals long-term rejections of all of the changes that have led to Slovakia's current success, as well as respect for the two totalitarian regimes Slovakia endured last century - the fascist wartime Slovak state and the communist post-war regime.
This totalitarian 'common denominator' in the coalition is the basis of its tacit agreement not to attack each other.
The Fico government does not show respect for the rule of law. In many cases the government comes up with suggestions that are either on the border or in conflict with the constitution.
The ruling coalition tries to conceal information. It is centralist and etatist. Its political style since the elections has been purges. It has degraded the legislative role of parliament. Its proposed changes in the economy, the pension system, the Labour Code, and in health care threaten to negate the results that have been achieved so far.
The democratic judicial system is falling apart. The government is belittling the importance of education and culture. It has increased the politicization of the state administration and the deformity in public spending. It is hypocritical. It is changing the nature of public television. The way it is distributing funds from the European Union is not, as claimed, helping to even out the differences between Slovakia's regions.
Despite all this, Slovakia is an economically and socially successful country, and the glow from this success is falling on the Fico government. This is the government's biggest problem. It inherited the golden egg of economic growth and falling unemployment. It is enjoying the results even though it condemned the causes. The government doesn't understand the basis of the current success, and is only prevented from sabotaging it by strong public pressure.
The ruling coalition is basically disunited, even though its responsibility for governance is indivisible. Each party often comes up with different and even conflicting ideas, most of which would mean a return to the past if acted upon.
But the government's greatest problem lies elsewhere. It is disdaining and it doesn't understand the need for further reforms - reducing the flat tax at least to 15 percent, reducing payroll taxes, reducing public spending, finishing the reforms to public administration and health care, and launching the reform of the education sector, which will be crucial to Slovakia's future.
This is a chance for the current opposition, even though its style of governance in the end became untrustworthy.
To have a chance of success, these parties must practise thorough, honourable and selfless opposition politics based on the reform agenda. Experience has shown that Slovakia's success needs reforms and a civilized government to continue.
Sme, March 20
26. Mar 2007 at 0:00 | Peter Zajac