UCL News


Letter: East European elections

6 July 2006

Your Editorial of July 5th on recent elections in Slovakia and other post-Communist states is too sweeping.

Whatever its origins, Smer, the party of the new Slovak prime minister, Robert Fico, is a social democratic party and has been accepted as such by the Party of European Socialists, of which it is a full member. Mr Fico's, admittedly worrying, choice of nationalists and populists as junior coalition partners partly reflects his difficulties in forming a majority government, given the unwillingness of some parties of the outgoing coalition, notably the Slovak Christian Democrats, to join him in a more centrist coalition.

Contrary to what is suggested in the Editorial, the recent elections in the Czech Republic were won by the pro-free market centre-right with only slight gains for the Social Democrats and losses for the hardline Communists.

Here the political situation is deadlocked, with no viable majority government yet in sight. Macedonia's politics are more concerned with ethnic accommodation than with straightforward conflicts over economic reform.

Given Ireland's experience of the (sometimes tricky) realities of PR and the longer-term process of modernising historic nationalist traditions, it is disappointing that you do not offer a nuanced picture of developments in contemporary Central and East Central Europe. …

Dr Sean Hanley, UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies

'Irish  Times'