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Abstract

Vladimir Mečiar, the first Prime Minister of independent Slovakia, is often criticized for his suppression of free media, political repression, and the widespread corruption of his government from 1993-1998. Mečiar has also been attacked for his economic policies, which critics suggest slowed down privatization and left Slovakia in a huge debt crisis. A closer look at macroeconomic data, however, demonstrates an impressive economic record for Mečiar, who oversaw several years of strong GDP growth, and relatively low levels of unemployment and inflation. By slowing down the privatization process, retaining control of key industries, and maintaining the social safety net, Mečiar was able to soften the blow of economic transition in Slovakia and prepare the groundwork politically for later market reform. Quick “shock therapy” in 1993 would have been politically disastrous in the nascent state, and it was only as a result of Mečiar’s slow-go policies that Slovakia is seen today as one of the great successes of post-Communist economic transition.