The first step to recognising that politics and competence may have a positive relationship is to avoid presenting Slovakia’s current cabinet as non-political.
Max Steuer, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India; Department of Political Science, Comenius University in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia.
In May 2023, President Čaputová appointed the country’s first cabinet composed largely of non-partisan experts. The cabinet has often been labelled ‘non-political’ or ‘technocratic’ – but Max Steuer questions this. He argues that while Slovakia’s cabinet may not be formed of party politicians, it is politically and democratically legitimate
Governing in disarray
In 2023, if we were to identify a prominent candidate for swift illiberalisation à la Hungary under Orbán or Poland under Kaczyński, Slovakia would rank highly on the list.
After a series of intra-coalition disagreements, in December 2022, the cabinet of Eduard Heger, the prime minster, failed a confidence vote in parliament. President Zuzana Čaputová exercised her powers to grant a temporary mandate, until the early elections, for a cabinet without parliamentary majority support. The elections, however, will not take place until September – and this has sparked widespread public dissatisfaction.
Moreover, the cabinet stands accused of major failures. Its shortcomings cover implementation of key political reforms, the use of EU funds to boost the economy, and public justifications of its decisions.
All this has created a political climate in which illiberal sentiments thrive. Disinformation runs rampant, and Slovakia’s education system still largely fails to produce critically-minded citizens.
Published in: The Loop: ECPR’s Political Science Blog
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