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Slovakia seems to preserve status quo

The democratic score for Slovakia improves, though slightly.

Situation in judiciary improved after Štefan Harabin's departure.(Source: SME)

While Slovakia is a consolidated democracy; corruption, cronyism and illiberal politics remain significant, if not dominant, features of the status quo. Developments in 2015 did not significantly alter this impression, according to the Nations in Transit 2016 report published by Freedom House.

With economic growth topping 3 percent in 2015, Slovakia is one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. However, political and judicial reforms have slowed down in recent years. As the country’s political right splintered, the Smer party has cemented the primacy of an already well-developed network of clientelist partners in business, health care, and the courts, the report reads.

Slovakia’s democracy score improved from 2.64 to 2.61. The judicial framework and independence rating improved from 3.00 to 2.75 as positive trends apparent at the end of 2014, specifically related to the removal of Štefan Harabin from key judicial posts, consolidated in 2015.

As for the national democratic governance, Slovakia scored 3.00, the same as in 2015. The country also kept its 2014 scores in the electoral process (1.50), the civil society (1.75), independent media (3.00), local democratic government (2.50), and corruption (3.75).

As for the development in 2016, the report pointed to the March 16 parliamentary elections, with the country clearly benefitting from an end to the campaign manoeuvering that crippled meaningful action on key political issues for much of 2015. The outcome of the elections will be closely watched as Slovakia will hold the rotating EU Council presidency in the second half of 2016.

The Slovak economy is expected to be among the fastest growing in the EU, and a return to power looks likely for the Smer party. Should the party further solidify its political influence and form a one-party government in parliament, Slovakia’s democratic development will likely deteriorate, according to the report.

Nations in Transit has been tracking democracy in the formerly communist countries of Europe and Eurasia since 1995. Weighted for population, the average democracy score in these 29 countries has declined every year since 2004 – 12 years in a row, including 2015.

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