for the KDH Election Program
Submitted by Sean Gabb and Nina Jurewicz
Political Advisers to the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic
Note: Early in 1992, I sat down with Nina Jurewicz, one of my colleagues, and drafted an election manifesto for the Christian Democrats. It was rejected out of hand and something was adopted instead that could have been written by an idiot child. Though aimed at the European Christian Democratic mind, and though written in Americanese, more than half of this is mine.
We propose that the document given below be used as the KDH election program for the parliamentary elections in June 1992. It is a brief statement of christian-democratic principle, which emphasizes those areas of concrete, economic policy, which will appeal to the Slovak people during this time of economic and social transition. When this document is approved, we suggest that it be publicized as widely and as quickly as possible by Nina Jurewicz and the KDH Press Department.
Introduction–Principles of KDH
The Christian Democratic Movement of Slovakia (KDH) is a political movement which is committed to the realization in every day life of the principles illustrated by the Gospel. We reject all forms of godless materialism, be it socialism or liberalism, and we embrace the profound social and economic insights contained in the papal encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Centesimus Annus, works which we believe express truths relevant to all Christians be they Roman Catholic or Protestant.
We believe that the state must serve the individual, and not the other way round. Only in this way can every man, woman, and child in Slovakia have the opportunities to serve God and the nation in the ways they see fit.
The economic policy of the KDH is to be broadly free-market. We believe that only by making full use of the market can enough wealth be generated to provide everyone in Slovakia with a decent level of comfort and dignity. This is not liberalism. It is instead a recognition of natural economic laws, and their harnessing to christian purposes/principles. Accordingly, we propose the following concrete economic policies:
We have seen the failure of state-owned enterprises throughout the world. We have also seen how successfully they can made to work when put into private ownership. Therefore, we fully support the current privatization process in Slovakia, and we shall work for the following ends:
- the continuation and extension of the coupon method of privatization, offering an equal share of assets to all citizens;
- the expansion of the whole privatization process, to include many of the most valuable services which have always been provided by the state, but which we believe can be better provided by private enterprise. Such services include road construction and management, railways, buses and other transport, the carrying of letters and parcels, and municipal services.
- the rapid and successful privatization of food distribution and telecommunications. Only thus can the people of Slovakia hope to enjoy a standard of living equal to that of the West, in which food is plentiful and affordable, and modern telecommunications are available to every household.
2) Financial Policy
We believe that the purpose of taxation is to raise money for essential public services. It is not to penalize individuals nor enterprises. Therefore, we shall work for lower taxes and a more simple system of collection.
We shall support the fight against inflation, which is the greatest enemy of all classes and of social stability. Inflation is caused by printing too much paper money. It is cured by printing no more.
We shall support the early full convertibility of the crown, so that our country has a hard currency, so making it a more favored recipient of increased foreign direct investment than certain other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
An integral part of this policy is the privatization and deregulation of the banking system. We cannot have a modern, first-class economy without a modern, first-class banking system. The KDH bank policy shall include the encouragement of competition among banks, and the privatization of commercial banks.
3) Foreign Investment
An economic transformation on the scale needed in Slovakia cannot be achieved without massive foreign direct investment and joint ventures. Slovakia needs billions of dollars from multi-national enterprises. This money is already available, but we must make Slovakia attractive to foreign investors. KDH supports a policy of attracting investment from all over the world, especially from the United States and Japan.
We believe that the consistent and long-term application of the economic policies described above will place Slovakia among the most favoured recipients of foreign direct investment.
As a Christian movement, the KDH has a distinct responsibility to help rebuild the moral integrity of Slovak society. We must ensure that individuals live in a society in which they may freely serve God and each other.
1) Unemployment Policy
Unemployment is not merely an economic problem. It is man’s nature and his right to work. Indeed, we serve God both at the workbench and in church. However, the short-term consequences of economic reform will be a certain level of unemployment. As Christians, we believe that society has a duty to help the unemployed regain their human dignity by finding honest work.
In concrete terms, this means that simply paying unemployment benefit is not enough. Indeed, experience at home and abroad shows that the greater the availability of the unemployment benefit, the larger the number of the unemployed and the longer they remain unemployed. Slovakia needs to put its unemployed back to work in programs of public importance. We must emphasize that this does not mean propping up unsuccessful firms producing goods which no one wants to buy. It means giving selective support, such as tax holidays and limited subsidies, to new enterprises working on market principles, and hiring the unemployed.
2) Health Care
We believe that every man, woman, and child in Slovakia has the right to decent health care. This means that the health care system inherited from the Communists must be totally reformed so that the state is not the sole provider. Only in this way can the sick and injured be assured of a standard of treatment that a modern European nation ought to expect. Of course, the state must provide full assistance to those who cannot themselves pay for their medical care.
But, for the majority of the Slovak population, the most appropriate system is compulsory health insurance as found in Germany. Such a system includes the free selection of doctors by each patient, the establishment of hospitals and clinics which are independent of the state, and the reimbursement of drug costs for treatment.
Despite forty years of Communist distortion of the curriculum, Slovakia has a basic education system as good as any in Europe, and better perhaps than England and the United States. We are proud of our literate and well-educated workforce. At the same, however, we recognize the need for certain reforms, and a greater access, where it is wanted, to religious education. The greatest need for reform lies in the area of higher education. This was, and remains, the most polluted by Communist ideology and corruption. Total reform will inevitably require time, but certain steps must be taken now to ensure that access to higher education is based on merit, not on connections. We must also ensure that the ideological content of university courses is reduced.
Quite simply, Slovakia needs better housing. People must wait often for years to move into a flat, and the only way to move in earlier is to have corruption. This system must be reformed. There must be quick and easy privatization of flats and houses to those tenants who want it. It must be made easier to rent property, and to build new property. Therefore, we propose the following:
- a new law of property, which clarifies ownership;
- the construction of housing for low-income families;
- the creation of banks especially for the construction industry.
5) Moral Regeneration
One of the greatest tragedies inflicted by four decades of Communist tyranny is the demoralization of Slovak society. The KDH is committed to helping restore the moral health of the nation by democratic means.
We shall closely examine every possible means by which the present high rates of abortion and divorce may be reduced.
We regard the problems of drug abuse and pornography as absolute moral evils. We have seen the corruptive influence these have had in the West, and we are committed to preventing any similar process of corruption here in Slovakia.
Slovakia is a nation with a thousand years of history. We believe that its distinct identity must be reflected in any constitutional arrangement. We fully support the principle of subsidiarity, first explained in the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891. According to this principle, government is only to perform those duties which individuals or families cannot perform for themselves. Of the duties which must be performed by the government, only those which cannot be performed by local government must be performed by the state government, and only those which cannot be performed by the state government may be performed by any higher authority. Therefore we believe that the widest possible competencies must be granted to Slovakia.
At the same time, we also recognize the need for the greatest caution. Almost every border in Central and Eastern Europe is disputed for one reason or another. If changes must be made, they must only be made in the full knowledge of all possible effects. The people of Slovakia must guard against any action likely to cause domestic or regional instability. This would be bad in itself. It will also prevent Slovakia from entering the European Community.
Of course, we are absolutely committed to Slovakia’s entry into the European Community. We must take all necessary measures to create the democratic, free-market conditions without which there can be no hope of entry.
Therefore, we believe that the KDH election program described above represents both the best and the only way forward for the people of Slovakia.
© 1992 – 2017, seangabb.
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