Monday, June 19, 2006

Let us not forget Slovakia

It was Slovakia’s turn to have an election this Sunday and …. guess what? …. the opposition won. Well, The Smer-Socialist Democratic Party came top with 29 per cent of the vote, which means a long bout of negotiations to form a coalition.

Former Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda’s Slovak Democratic and Christian Movement received 18 per cent of the vote, not as bad a performance as all that, given the much discussed dissatisfaction with the economic reforms in the country.

President Ivan Gasparovic has asked the Social Democrat leader, Robert Fico to form the government but it is not clear at this stage whether he will try to form a coalition with the Christian Democrats and, possibly, an ethnic Hungarian party or with the nationalist ones.

So far, Mr Dzurinda has said that the reforms must continue, particularly if Slovakia wants to be in the euro by 2009, a somewhat unlikely proposition and Mr Fico has said that he wanted a country in which there was more solidarity and justice. By this, one assumes, he means a restoration of the reduced free health care and social benefits. Curiously, there was nothing in the party’s platform that would explain who would pay for that.

Meanwhile, as Bloomberg points out:
“The koruna fell to 38.13 against the euro by 3:02 p.m., trading near a seven-month low, from 38.05 on June 16. The currency has fallen for the last six weeks, its longest losing streak since June 2002, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”
Mr Fico insists that, although he will take a left of centre route and concentrate on reviving the old welfare systems, he wants to continue to foster economic growth and foreign investment.

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