2004 | nr 25 A New All-European Development Model in an Enlarged EU : Social and Economic Aspects | 360--375
The Politics of Transition and The Post-Transition Period in Slovakia
This paper is based on an article published in the April 2004 issue of the Austrian journal Kurswechsel. There is a big secret at the heart of the Slovak politics today. A secret that none of the people "in the know" dares to tell the public. Let us break the taboo and say it out loud: The transition in Slovakia is over. That is not to say that the pain for the population is over - not by any means. Nor does it mean that Slovakia is today a fully functioning market economy of the Western type. Rather, it is to point out the fact that the main focus of the government agenda is no longer on assimilating the structure of the Slovak economy and society to that of Western Europe. That period has passed, to be finally sealed by Slovakia's entry into the EU. Today, it would not be too far-fetched to say that the point of the government agenda is to actually diverge from the Western European standards. We are leaving the familiar contours of the still- existing EU-type welfare state and entering uncharted waters. Under the guise of "reforms" - a magic word behind which any sort of outrage can still be hidden - the government is hoping to push through a radical right-wing programme that, when taken as a whole, has no equivalent anywhere in the Western world (including the US). This programme includes the privatisation of the pension system, the flat income tax (as well as a sharp increase in the VAT on basic necessities), elimination of the free healthcare and higher education, and privatisation of the remaining public enterprises, chiefly utilities such as water.1 It is imperative to keep the population in the dark about the fact that these things have nothing to do with transition and everything to do with Eastern Europe becoming - after Latin America - the newest laboratory for neoliberal ideas. For if the people realised this, who knows what that might lead to? (original abstract)
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