BRATISLAVA, February 26, (SITA) – The governing coalition has strengthened state influence on the economy, regulatory bodies and public life in 2008, party cronyism became more intensive, the ruling coalition used openly the principle of tyranny of the majority, deepened confrontation with the opposition, media, non-governmental organizations and independent initiatives. The governing coalition adopted laws that were criticized at home and abroad, while several laws strengthened the role of the state in an effort to secure business deals for people close to the governing coalition.
These trends, launched after Robert Fico came to power, are indicated by the new Global Report on the State of Society. Slovakia 2008 , which was presented by the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO). Despite intensifying corruption, which citizens view this evil as the fourth most serious problem in the society, and Robert Fico became more popular among citizens. Citizens felt well and economically stable last year. As many as 61 percent people believed that the country is heading the right direction at the end of last year. Optimists outnumbered pessimist nearly twofold and they reached the highest number over the last ten years. However, the beginning of the world financial and economic crisis was visible also in Slovakia. Public opinion surveys from the beginning of this year indicate a drop in optimism. Since 43 percent of people entered 2008 with optimism, it was only 26 percent at the beginning of this year; IVO refers to a survey conducted by KMG International.
Fico’s government preserved its image of socially oriented and responsible government. People welcome most the decision to scrap fees for seeing a doctor, Christmas pensions and childbirth contributions. Relations between Slovaks and Hungarians kept worsening and their differing perception of problems and victims continued. While in 2005 the opinions of Slovaks and ethnic Hungarians living in Slovakia on the direction of society did not differ very much, last year 15 percent more ethnic Hungarians than Slovaks considered development in the country to be moving in the wrong direction. As many as 78 percent of ethnic Hungarians think that their position in society has worsened since Robert Fico came to power.