Slovakia. At the beginning of the year, the South Korean giant Hyundai decided to build a new car factory in Slovakia at a cost of just over SEK 6 billion. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Slovakia is 5,459,653 people in 2020. The factory, which is expected to be completed in 2006, will produce around 200,000 vehicles a year. Thus, Slovakia had definitely shaken off its mark as Central Europe’s least interesting investment country and established itself as Europe’s most attractive country for the multinational car industry. This had happened not only because of low wages and low costs, but also with the help of an investment-friendly policy. According to a report from the World Bank, Slovakia was one of the two countries in the world that improved its business climate the most in the previous year.
The country’s controversial former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar won the first round of the presidential election in April. In second place came his former political ally Ivan Gašparović. The result was surprising, as most observers had expected Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan to prevail. Possibly the surprise became even bigger when Ivan Gašparović won the decisive round over Mečiar with close to 60% of the vote and was named the country’s new president, just before Slovakia joined the EU on 1 May. Just over a month earlier, Slovakia had been included as a member of the NATO Defense Alliance.
In March 2010, President Gasparovic vetoes a new Patriotism Act, due to come into force on April 1. Otherwise, the law required that schools display the Slovak national symbols in each classroom and that the country’s national tune should be played in all schools every Monday morning.
In May, Slovakia protests against Hungary’s decision to allow ethnic Hungarians living abroad to apply for Hungarian citizenship. Slovakia strikes again by declaring that Slovakians applying for dual citizenship automatically will lose their Slovak citizenship.
The June 2010 parliamentary elections were won by the ruling Social Democracy, which ran for 12 seats and gained 34.8% of the vote. But the Social Democracy’s 2 coalition partners got a poor election result. The ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party withdrew 11 seats and came just above the threshold. The second, HZDS was completely out of Parliament. The second largest party, the Christian Democrats who got 15.4% of the vote, therefore formed government with 3 other less right-wing parties and Iveta Radičová became new prime minister. The country’s first female prime minister. However, the coalition collapses in October 2011 when one of the parties refuses to ratify Slovakia’s participation in the EU financial rescue fund.
After several years of high growth, the country was hit hard by the global economic crisis, which seriously hit in 2008. GDP fell by 4.9% during the year, while unemployment rose from 10.6% in March 2009 to 14, 1% in March 2010. Meanwhile, youth unemployment had risen to 33.3%. Well above the EU average. The country’s introduction of € as currency in January 2009 had neither made nor on this crisis development. The new government that came to power in July 2010 stated that it wanted to implement traditional bourgeois cutbacks: reducing government spending to reduce the budget deficit but avoiding tax increases.