IVETA Radičová has served one of Slovakia's shortest terms as prime minister, with only a year and four months in the position. After parliament failed her cabinet in the crucial euro-bailout vote on October 11, her future as well as the future of the party that opposed the bailout legislation, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), are the biggest questions in Slovak politics. The Slovak Spectator sought the opinion of political scientist Tim Haughton, currently a visiting fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in the US. He gave his views on possible developments on Slovakia’s political scene.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Now that the vote is over and Iveta Radičová’s government has fallen, do you think it was a good idea for Radičová to link the two votes – the bailout and the confidence vote – in parliament?
Tim Haughton (TH): Everyone can be wiser with hindsight, but the bottom line is that the government needed to approve the bailout and Radičová had to use all the tools in her toolbox to try to get her government to support the measure. Beyond making a massive concession to [SaS leader Richard] Sulík or [Smer leader Robert] Fico, what genuine alternative did she have?
TSS: How do you see the future of Iveta Radičová on the Slovak political scene now?
TH: As she mentioned on the first anniversary of her government she has had a difficult time as prime minister. Running a coalition government in Slovakia is not easy at the best of times, but it is particularly difficult when a prime minister is not even the leader of her own party. Radičová has a very good chance of becoming the next president if she wants to continue in politics.
TSS: Do you think the conduct of SaS will strengthen its popularity among voters, or are people likely to turn away from them now?
TH: By opposing the bailout Sulík has no doubt garnered a modicum of support from some eurosceptic circles. Sulík’s main problem lies in the fact that the core of his party’s voters in 2010 (excluding those elected under the Ordinary People label) supported SaS’ liberal agenda. Sulík hasn’t delivered the liberal social agenda he promised. As Kevin Deegan-Krause and I have argued in a number of academic articles, new parties in Slovakia which go straight into government after first being elected find it difficult to hang on to their support. SaS’s support is not as deeply rooted as the support for, say, KDH [the Christian Democratic Movement]. I would expect a large slice of those who voted SaS in 2010 not to support the party again in any early elections; the real question is whether this drop in support will be outweighed by more eurosceptic voters who admired Sulík’s stance on the bailout.
17. Oct 2011 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani