The election campaign has begun with the announcement of the early parliamentary elections, which will take place on September 30th. In the upcoming months, we will face not only escalated emotions, but also an unpredictable legislative environment and a diverse mix of political leaders.
What to expect in the coming months?
- The government’s hands are tied – The cabinet has a limited mandate and is expected to take only the necessary measures until the early elections. The outgoing government should avoid major decisions regarding economic and social issues and should not even take decisions on key domestic and foreign policy issues. For this reason, the government’s ability to respond to unexpected domestic and international policy challenges will be limited. The president’s opinion will be important in making more fundamental decisions, and the head of state is expected to intervene if necessary or to dismiss the cabinet and replace it with a caretaker government.
- Unpredictability of the legislative environment – Even though 7 political parties originally entered the parliament in 2020, the National Council currently comprises representatives from 15 different entities and groups. The government does not have a majority of MPs in parliament, which will make it difficult to pass its proposed bills. The parties in parliament will need to engage in separate negotiations and reach agreements on each bill. In the lead-up to the elections, they will be primarily guided by the interests and preferences of their voters. Proposals that do not carry significant political costs for the parties are more likely to be approved or may become the subject of political bargaining and compromise in exchange for support for other initiatives. Various legislative surprises from politicians may prove difficult to navigate or influence.
- Populist proposals with serious economic consequences – In times of economic crisis and rising inflation, populist proposals may resurface, such as calls for an increase in the minimum wage, higher taxes imposed on certain sectors, or regulation of prices. There may also be individual proposals to lower taxes in specific segments of the economy. Any structural changes that do not show an immediate positive effect, including green topics, will take a back seat. Additionally, individual legislative initiatives by MPs will not undergo interdepartmental review, which means that there will be virtually no impact analysis of these proposals on business environment.
- Public opinion will dictate the pre-election topics – With few exceptions, established political parties in Slovakia lack a solid long-term vision on key issues such as the economy, social issues, healthcare, and the environment. They tend to align with public opinion and adjust their positions accordingly. The latest “Ako sa mate, Slovensko? (How are you, Slovakia?)” survey from November 2022 revealed that rising inflation and energy prices are the primary concerns among people. Political leaders can be expected to come up with simple, populist, and relatable solutions to these problems. The pre-election manifestos will only offer minimal and vague starting points, leaving unclear, ever-changing positions on various issues.