In 2021, three quarters of the 12 Central European countries faced a government crisis. Only the Hungarian, Serbian and Croatian governments could preserve their stability, as revealed by a comparative analysis of Nézőpont Institute. There is a clear connection between governments’ stability and their performance. Based on data on the economy, on job creation, sovereign debt and vaccination rates, the Hungarian, Serbian and Croatian governments performed the best, along with the Polish government, which has been under unprecedented foreign pressure.

The Hungarian, Serbian and Croatian governments are the most stable in the Central European region. Their stay in power is not threatened by internal conflicts or strong challengers. Out of the 12 countries studied, five had a change of government. The prime minister fell during the term in Austria twice, and in Romania and Slovakia once, while the Czech Republic and Bulgaria had new governments come in after the elections. An additional three countries, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland, had no change of governments but are burdened by internal conflicts in the ruling coalition and have constant difficulties retaining parliamentary majority.

COUNTRY rank score 

(+4 > -4)

rank score 

(+4 > -4)

Poland 4 0 1 2
Czech Republic 7 -2 7 -1
Slovakia 11 -3 9 -2
Hungary 1 4 1 2
Austria 4 0 6 0
Slovenia 11 -3 4 1
Croatia 3 2 4 1
Serbia 1 4 1 2
Montenegro 7 -2 9 -2
North Macedonia 6 -1 9 -2
Romania 7 -2 7 -1
Bulgaria 7 -2 12 -3

Government stability and performance were given points ranging from +4 to -4 in the analysis. Rankings of government stability and government performance were established by adding up the scores.

Government stability was assessed through the stability of the prime minister and the cabinet members, the stability of the parliamentary majority, the government’s relationships to constitutional institutions, and the public support for the government. This also means that stability is increased if constitutional institutions are in a harmonious relationship or if the government has a stable parliamentary majority, even if the cabinet’s composition changes.

In the analysis, the indicators for government performance included macroeconomic indicators such as the 2021 figures of economic growth and unemployment, as well as the rate of sovereign debt. Beyond these, the analysis also looked at vaccination rates against the coronavirus, as governments are directly responsible for these indicators.

Nézőpont Institute’s analysis shows that government stability and government performance are closely related. It is the outliers that require an explanation, rather than those examples where stable governments are also successful. Governments whose time and energy are not tied up managing internal conflicts and arranging a parliamentary majority could react faster and in a more flexible and innovative manner to the economic, health and social problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hungary and Serbia are good examples of the connection between government stability and government performance. They both lead both rankings. The stable Croatian government was also successful in managing the challenges of the coronavirus. Poland is the only country that succeeded in managing the economic and health challenges of the pandemic while the government faced difficulties in maintaining its majority in 2021.

Burdened with three elections, Bulgaria’s government can clearly be called unstable in 2021. It is not surprising that the Bulgarian governments were ranked the lowest in performance. Slovakia had a similar situation, with continuous disagreements in the coalition and with a government change in 2021. The country’s performance was ranked only ninth among the 12 countries. Slovenia was a refreshing exception. Early in 2021, its ruling coalition was not certain to survive, but the upcoming elections and the EU presidency helped stabilise its situation, allowing it to do a good job. It was ranked fourth in the region for its performance.

The analysis was discussed and finalised with experts from the 12 countries on 10 December 2021 by Nézőpont Institute.