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Last-Minute Jitters?

1 minute read
ANDREW PURVIS

Cold feet can be contagious: Central European governments leading their countries into the European Union next month are suffering at the polls. In Slovakia, the governing coalition’s main presidential candidate lost out to hard-line nationalist and former Prime Minister Vladimír Meciar, who’s the favorite going into the final round of voting this weekend. Although the post is largely ceremonial, the return of the controversial strongman would complicate relations with its new E.U. partners, says Grigorij Meseznikov, head of the Institute for Public Affairs in Bratislava. “It’s not good for the country,” he says. “Our image abroad will suffer.”

Governments in the Czech Republic and Poland are also struggling. Support for the Czech Republic’s ruling Social Democrats is at a low at 14.5%. Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller announced in March that he will step down May 2 — a day after his country joins the E.U. — after his ruling party split amid allegations of corruption and mismanagement. There is similar turmoil in Lithuania, where deputies voted to impeach scandal-plagued President Rolandas Paksas. But given Paksas’ reputation for erratic behavior, the change will likely improve Lithuania’s image within the E.U.

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