Terms associated with politics
When a person crosses the threshold of 18 years, usually the further he goes, the more often he hears about some kind of civic duty he has towards the state. Although this phrase is associated with various acts, it is often associated with the right to vote. To be able to vote, however, it is necessary to understand several terms that determine your choice.
Political system in Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a parliamentary republic – the parliamentary system is applied in our system of state bodies. Such a form of government is based on the dominance of the legislative power, to which the executive branch of power is subordinate. You can read more about this division of powers a little below.
Our political establishment is a democracy. It protects the observance of your rights and freedoms, allows you to participate directly or indirectly in the running of the state, and also includes the fact that the state informs you about everything important. Democracy is based on two principles – it recognizes the freedom and equality of citizens and the submission of the minority to the majority.
Direct democracy is based on the direct participation of citizens in decision-making on public matters. It consists in the fact that you sometimes have the opportunity to directly and immediately react to the situation and make decisions. However, this is practically impossible nowadays, so it exists only as a supplement to indirect democracy, for example as a referendum, which you can read more about on the subpage dedicated to active participation.
In indirect democracy, citizens do not decide on specific issues themselves, but elect a smaller number of representatives from among themselves, who have a mandate to make decisions on their behalf. Elections, in which we as citizens elect members of parliament, local government and others who will continue to make decisions for us, are an essential part of indirect democracy.
One of the most important links in our political system is the parliament. It has different names depending on the specific state; in our case, it is the National Council of the Slovak Republic (NR SR). In other countries, the term parliament or congress is also used. After the parliamentary elections, a coalition and an opposition are formed. The coalition consists of political parties that have formed alliances with each other. They have a majority representation in the parliament, and therefore a leading position. The opposition consists of the remaining parties that managed to get enough votes to be in the parliament, but did not become part of the coalition.
The coalition parties share ministries among themselves. Some deputies become ministers and then, together with the president, they form the Government of the Slovak Republic. We currently have 14 ministries, which you can learn more about, for example, on the website slovensko.sk.
If you want to learn more about this topic, listen to our podcast with pedagogue, sociologist and political scientist Iveta Radičová. He will explain how democracy works, why elections are so necessary and important, and how the electoral system works in Slovakia.
Put simply, the state does three main activities:
- sets certain rules of behavior according to which every citizen must follow, and thus approves and adopts laws that you must follow – we call this legislative power, which is exercised by the National Council of the Slovak Republic (parliament);
- creates these laws, issues various regulations and thus generally takes care of the functioning of the state, its economy and much more – it is the executive power and is exercised by the president, the government and individual ministries;
- it checks compliance with the laws it has made and approved and punishes those who break them – that is the job of the judicial power exercised by the courts.
Such division of power in the state serves to ensure that none of the powers are abused. All are separate, separate, independent and irresponsible from each other. The essence of the separation of powers is to ensure the balance of all three powers – only when none of the powers has a dominant position can they effectively check each other.
This means that, for example, the president as a representative of the executive power cannot be elected by the parliament, i.e. the legislative power. In the same way, a member of parliament as a holder of legislative power cannot be a judge at the same time and punish non-compliance with these laws.
The tripartite division of power is referred to as the horizontal division of power. There is also a vertical division of power, we are talking about the division of power between individual state administration bodies and local self-government bodies.
Contemporary political ideologies
Political ideologies characterize ideas and opinions that are typical for the actions of people belonging to this ideology. It is therefore a set of opinions, ideas and attitudes held by a certain group of people. They express the values of these people – what is important to them, what are their priorities, what are their principles.
It is a politico-economic doctrine that essentially results from the will to limit the state for the sake of the growth of individual freedom, individual rights, equality before the law, protection of private property and free trade. Under liberalism, minimal state intervention is necessary to guarantee the advocated guidelines. Liberals consider the market as a great provider and regulator of society.
Conservatism advocates maintaining traditional societal values such as family, local community and religion, including their morals, traditions and conventions. Conservatism emphasizes the continuity and stability of institutions, opposes any kind of revolutionary movements and progressive politics.
Democratic socialism is an ideology that recognizes the social inequalities of capitalism and rejects the totalitarian nature of communism. This ideology is implemented through a political, cultural and economic system where there is a free market initiative with some regulation. This regulation is carried out mainly through taxes, which are redistributed in favour of the population, while investments are made in education, health and infrastructure.
Communism is an economic system where the group owns the factors of production. Factors of production are labor, business, capital goods and natural resources. Although the government does not legally own the workforce, central planning tells people where they should work. The theory of communism was created by the German philosopher Karl Marx. In his view, the capitalist owners would no longer take all the profits. Instead, the proceeds would go to the workers.
Capitalism is often thought of as an economic system in which private actors own and control property according to their interests, asking and offering freely determined prices in markets in a way that can serve society's best interests. An essential feature of capitalism is the profit motive.
Anarchism is a process in which authority and domination are replaced by non-hierarchical horizontal structures with voluntary associations between human beings. It is a form of social organization with a set of key principles such as self-organization, voluntary association, freedom, autonomy, solidarity, direct democracy, egalitarianism and mutual aid.
Left and right
If you are at least a little interested in politics, you will definitely know these two terms. However, if you are confused about what they actually mean, the video. There are many differences between these two terms, but both ideologies have evolved over time, and today it is no longer so easy to characterize them clearly.
Did we forget something? At the bottom of the page, you will find a form in which you can let us know what political terms we should add to this page and what other information about any of the topics we are missing here.
If you want to learn more about this topic, you can listen to the podcast Verejne o politike, for example. There are also several discussion shows on political topics, for example, Braňo Závodský Naživo or Rozhovory ZKH.
We also recommend spending a few minutes on the AdultLife podcast with political scientist Michal Vašečka. He will tell you the reason why everyone should get involved in social events, for example by participating in municipal elections.
Don’t forget to follow us on your favorite podcast platform: