Sunday, June 18, 2006

Slovakia Better Than Expected

With results in from the Slovak elections, it looks somewhat better than what the polls had predicted.

For sure the left-leaning and populist Smer come out on top with 29,1% of the vote and 50 seats in the 150 seat parliament.

But Mikolas Dzurinda's SKDU did much better than expected with 18,4% of the vote and 31 seats.

And if you add the two other parties - the Hungarian SMK and the Christian Democratic party - that were part of the reform coalition of the last few years you end up with 38,4% of the vote and 65 of the seats in parliament.

Short of a majority - but not necessarily further away from a majority than the Smer party is.

So Slovakia will enter a period of maneuvering over who will form the coalition for the coming years. To me it looks rather open.

The far-right Slovak National Party should hopefully be out of the picture since it ran on an essentially anti-Hungarian platform. To bring them into government would undoubtedly have international repercussion. And the Communist are distinctly out since they didn't even make it into parliament.

Key might well be what happens with the populist HZDS of former President Meciar. He secured 8,7% and 15 seats - not too impressive - but seems to be one of the keys to who will govern in Bratislava in the years to come.

But Smer will need an agreement both with him and with parties that were part of the Dzurinda reform coalition. And the later ones are unlikely to agree to major corrections of the succesful policies pursued by Slovakia in recent years.

The Christian Democrats campaign with the pledge to take the 19% flat income tax down to 14%.

The country has really been one of the outstanding success stories of reform in the last few years.

But there is good hope that the essence of these reforms will stay - and practically everyone seems committed to taking the country into the Euro as soon as possible.