The Slovak Spectator released an interview with IVO president on major political issues in Slovakia in 2012.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What are your expectations for 2012?
Grigorij Mesežnikov: Slovakia will have to confront a very serious economic situation. The situation in the eurozone will certainly affect Slovakia, meaning that it will have both economic and political consequences for the country – because solving these economic issues will require the agreement of several political parties. But I do think that Slovakia has the potential to solve these problems in cooperation with its partners in the European Union. I do not expect to see the return of any authoritarian forces similar to certain parties which ruled in 2006. Yet the options remain open and it is possible that parties which were not very convincing in the area of political democracy in the past will strive to be involved in sharing power. I am mildly optimistic, but certainly with the caveat that something might still emerge and influence developments in Slovakia – something unknown that we cannot predict at the moment.
TSS: What will be the key events in 2012?
Grigorij Mesežnikov: Certainly the parliamentary elections, because these will determine further developments – the composition of the government and the ruling coalition will emerge based on the results of these elections. Then, undoubtedly, the situation within the eurozone will figure: what direction the European Union will take; how groupings of countries will be formed and what their position will be on certain issues; how these positions will differ from the opinions of other countries. In Slovakia if a political grouping similar to the current ruling parties is formed after the elections, I expect the continuation of reform measures in the area of the courts, which I consider very important, along with strengthening transparency, consolidating public finances, and so on. This is quite an important agenda.
TSS: Do you expect any significant changes after the March elections? If so, what kind?
Grigorij Mesežnikov: The most significant possible change after the elections would be if a government comes to power which erases everything that the previous government has done, bringing in fundamentally different politics. However, it does not seem to me that conditions are right for that. I am not excluding the possibility that in a modified form the current ruling coalition will continue since several bodies have now emerged which, eventually and if there is good will, could be considered the potential partners of centre-right parties. In that case any fundamental change is very unlikely. If some of the current ruling parties unite with Smer, for example, no radical changes can be expected; there could be some changes but Smer, which is an anti-reform party, would find it difficult to justify the removal of reforms. If they [Smer] manage to get a centre-right party as a coalition partner, which they are striving for, then there would be no radical changes since I assume that anyone from the current centre-right parties considering cooperation with Smer would not agree to rescind the reforms.
TSS: Which events from 2011 will continue to influence the Slovak political arena?
Grigorij Mesežnikov: Those developments which led to the fall of the government [on October 11] and the announcement of early elections will continue to have an impact on Slovakia’s politics, including the approach Slovakia has taken towards European issues. Initially, [parliament] failed to support participation in the extension of the bailout fund but then Slovakia approved the decision and thus it will certainly influence our attitude and our obligations towards the EU. Along with these issues, things that this government has managed to achieve in reforming the court system, in bringing transparency, will continue to have an impact. This is what I consider to be most important as in this area the past government was highly reform-driven. However, the fact that the government did not manage to revise the law on state citizenship [a response by the Fico government to the Hungarian law on dual citizenship] could influence developments in Slovakia since Fico’s legislation is still valid. We know, for example, that Ján Slota [chairman of the Slovak National Party] has filed an objection against the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK). In such a specific situation the influence of what has been done or could not be done in legislation in 2011 might emerge.
Other respondents were Darina Malová, head of the Political Sciences Department of Comenius University, and political scientist Miroslav Kusý.
Interviewers: Beata Balogová & Radka Minarechová