Friday, March 27, 2009

Today's world seen from Bratislava

The liberal daily from Bratislava, SME, published today an article on the political situation in Hungary.(Unfortunately it is not a longer piece, as its author, Peter Morvay is a colorful personality, for example he was for a while probably the last Czechoslovak citizen, more than a decade after the dissolutuon of that country.) Otherwise the article is a short one, outlining the possibilities and arguing that the decision of one of the candidates for being designated prime minister to reject the offer was reasonable, given the limitations of his role. Later Morvay poses the question whether the leader of the Hungarian opposition, almost certainly prime minister after the next elections, will be able to implement reforms, even if these will be contrary to his campaign promises, replicating the situation that destroyed Gyurcsány's credibility.

What is interesting in this piece is the perspective and the implcit lecturing Hungary on the lack of reforms, similar to the achievements of the Dzurinda governments. Hungary is portrayed as very sick country with an almost dead economy, while its neighbors are realtively safe from the effects of the crisis. Even though both statements are exaggerated (Romania's budget are in a worse shape, and its economyc funamntals are maybe even worse - the driving force of growth was a housing bubble, instead ofr exports as in Hungary or Slovakia, Slovakia's budget, although clearly unnoticed for Morvay, is in the process of collapse because of the tax system's faults, the exchange rate for the koruna by the introduction of the euro disadvantaged the Slovak industry very much and paradoxically this is perhaps only veiled by the crisis (!)*, not to speak of Ukraine, and recession is hardly evitable in every country in the region) my aim is not to make an argument. On the one hand, because the criticisim is not completely unfounded, on the other hand because the stance of the SME is more important for this blog. It shows how easy it is in ECE to accept the role of leader of the pack, that of the model country's and how easy it is to present one country as superior to the others, using achievements and the sufferings leading to them as proofs of this. Today's world seen from Bratislava is a very assimetrical one, instead of the crisis, and Slovakia is its rigid schoolmaster.

(Ok, let me provide some proofs: the economic sentiment index hit in March an all time low in Slovakia, construction, services, retail sales confidence in almost free fall and industry and consumer confidence showing deep depression and no increase even though the Slovak car making plants were positively affected by the German "Umweltpraemie".)

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