Protests in Central Europe 2018

Central Europe is getting tired: the anti-government demonstration were more frequent in 2018 than in previous years

5 January 2019

Marcin Zaborowski

Visegrad Insight Senior Fellow

Analysts expect stable economic growth for the countries of the v4 region. Nevertheless, social dissatisfaction may grow if the progressive ‘oligarchization’ of economic systems will be maintained and the ruling parties will continue to keep their countries away from the Western standards.

Slovaks Went to the Streets

In the usually peaceful Slovakia, the previous year began with powerful protests against corruption and the government’s links to organized crime. The immediate reason for the protest was the murder of the investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnierova, who were shot on February 21. The police immediately linked the murder with the work of Kuciak, who investigated the connections between Prime Minister Robert Fico and members of the Italian mafia living in Slovakia.

Slovakia has been always considered one of the most corrupt countries in the region but during the government of Robert Fic0 and his party Smer, the perception of the degree of corruption reached a record level. The Smer party, originating from the communist party of Slovakia, from the beginning was associated with leading Slovak businessmen. Many of Fico’s cabinet members were also entrepreneurs who routinely used their government position to create a conflict of interest.

A sticker with a photo of slain journalists

Smer’s policy has been and remains a strange Central European tangle. Nominally, the party is left-wing, but in fact, it favours the interests of business often derived from the communist secret services. Fico himself intertwines the leftist and often pro-European rhetoric with the nationalist one. He strongly argued against the EU’s emigration policy and his government voted against the allocation of refugees.


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Marcin Zaborowski

Visegrad Insight Senior Fellow

Senior Fellow at Visegrad Insight and Editor-in-Chief of Res Publica Nowa. Future of Security Programme Director at Globsec. Former director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs and CEPA Warsaw office.


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