Sunday, June 18, 2006

In The Heart Of Europe A Change Of Direction

Saturday's election was the first since Slovakia joined the European Union in 2004. It was a victory for democracy, but not for Prime Minister Dzurinda. As Central Europe's longest-serving prime minister, Mr Dzurinda can point to increased international investment and the highest per capita rate of car production in Europe. However unemployment stands at 15% and many areas away from the capital Bratislava have not experienced strong growth.
That is one reason why Mr. Robert Fico and his main leftist opposition party won the largest share of the vote in the Slovak general election. Though this is a victory for Mr. Fico, his supporters need to understand that their win is far short of an outright majority. Fico's Smer (Direction) party has taken 29.14% of ballots against 18.36% for Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union.

In order to govern, Mr. Fico will have to choose partners from among nearly half a dozen very different parties. This is where the difficulty will lie for to enter into any such negotiations will surely compromise Mr. Fico’s promise to roll back many of the centre-right government's reforms.

One thing Mr. Fico will learn fast, now in power, that he did not know as opposition. It is easier to shout from the sidelines than to actually govern. How he does govern and what he will shout now will be most interesting to see.

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