Winners and Losers: A Case Study of Slovenian and Zimbabwean State Strength
Recently, an international organization called The Fund for Peace (FFP) published a Fragile State Index (FSI) for 2014 (The Fund for Peace 2014). Based on an overwhelming amount of information, FFP was able to rank 178 independent and sovereign states by attributing a definite FS index to each of them. As a result, the organization’s long list of countries kicks off with the most volatile one -South Sudan-and, gradually advancing in terms of political stability, culminates with Finland- the most stable state. An observant person can easily perceive a certain pattern in a hierarchy of countries, such as powerful European states occupying the bottom positions and Sub-Saharan countries being at the forefront. However, FPP’s list also exposes pleasant as well as unpleasant deviations from existent patterns. In another words, certain countries, such as Slovenia and Zimbabwe, hold positions highly odd for them. Those intricate, “hole in the wall” states provoke an interest in comparative politics scholars. In this particular essay, I will try to explain why these above mentioned countries-Slovenia and Zimbabwe- hold 11th and 163rd positions respectively. In this respect, I consider that the independent, underlying variable of state’s strength and stability is its capacity of providing public services to population. Therefore, by juxtaposing Zimbabwean and Slovenian data concerning the provision of services, such as policing, education, and infrastructure, I will argue these measures are quintessential for a stability of a state. Instead of a state-based approach in which one has to look at all characteristics of a country, I will use a service-oriented method; the flow of the argument will concentrate on a quality of government-provided service in Zimbabwe and Slovenia.
Despite its former membership of Yugoslavia, a bumpy road towards the independence and an experience of failed communism, Slovenia currently emerged as a bastion of liberal democratic values in Europe. Leading the continent in various measures, such as GINI index, Slovenia boasts with a well-educated and refined workforce (CIA 2014). Such a caliber of human resources is a result of years of Slovenian governmental investment in public education. Slovenia, a country of just 2 million people, fully comprehends the value of educational progress. Translated into monetary terms, educational expenses amounted 5.7% of Slovenian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010; by this measure, Slovenia has cut in front of much larger European states, such as Finland, Sweden and United Kingdom (Eurostat 2013). Not only does the Slovenian government spend a reasonable amount of funds to improve country’s education, but also it constantly refines the system per se. In the country, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport is in charge of implementing education (Government of the Republic of Slovenia n.d.). As reflected by various statistics, this responsible governmental body effectively carries out its policies: 98% of primary school students continue their general studies, while 84% of secondary school graduates advance to tertiary education. While Slovenia only has 4 major public institutions of higher education-University of Ljubljana, Maribor, Primorska and Nova Gorica- the country provides the access to various art academies and professional colleges. These technical, know-how-based institutions are viable alternatives for those young Slovenians who prefer fully engage in a job market from an early age. Furthermore, Slovenia is open to direct foreign investments in the country’s education; a knowledgeable and willing foreigner can easily found a higher learning institution in Slovenia. In this respect, the country’s native applicants and ones from other European Union countries have equal opportunity of admission in Slovenian public universities. In monetary terms, the country’s government effectively and fully payrolls the full-time studies in every public university. In overall, as estimated in 2011, 99.7% of Slovenes are literate- by a definition of being able to sign their name in Slovenian language. Moreover, the ration of higher education students per thousand citizens has increased from 19.1% to 41.5% in 2005. In 2005, more than 17% of Slovenes from an age of 25 to 64 were in a “some form of education or training” (Government of the Republic of Slovenia n.d.). These impressive numbers pave a way for a stable measure of unemployment- 13.1% (2013 est.) (CIA 2014). As epitomized by provision of education by Slovenian government, a highly-educated, skillful workforce and better civil society is a valuable guarantee of state’s strength and stability.
On the other side of an “educational coin” lays Zimbabwe- a former British colony independent since 1980. Being under a harsh rule of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe is devoid of an opportunity to fully materialize its educational potential of 13 million people (CIA 2014). Since the declaration of independence, Zimbabwean government has not ushered a reforms to modernize the country’s educational system in order to upgrade it from a subordinate, colonial nature. Despite these facts, Zimbabwe, quite surprisingly, stands out from surrounding countries with a literacy rate of over 90%. However, this achievement does not reflect the government’s emphasis on education (CIA 2014). By contrast, Zimbabwean authorities only contribute 2.5% of country’s Gross Domestic Product to educational expenses (CIA 2014). As the information presented by Zimbabwe Statistical Agency reveals, 51% of men and 49% of women “had not been to school” (The Africa Report 2014). From the total female population of Harare- the capital city-30% percent had foregone their school studies (The Africa Report 2014). An economic austerity has been a reason for firing teachers which resulted in an increased pupil/teacher ratio of 38.6 % (UNICEF 2008). Furthermore, the lack of funding from the government has contributed to a general lower qualification of a workforce. Thus, Zimbabwean government’s negligence has channeled to unemployment and drove it to sky-high 95% percent in 2005 (CIA 2014). Had this 95% of people been employed, Zimbabwean GDP and economy would have looked been in a much better shape. Moreover, the country has also been a victim to a deadly hyperinflation which marred the value of Zimbabwean dollar in 2008 (CIA 2014). Although Zimbabwe has rebounded after inflation, Mugabe’s regime still fails to invest efficiently in a sphere of education. In a nutshell, Zimbabwe currently faces a cyclical problem of unemployment and governmental spending in education. All in all, the ruling party’s unwillingness to rejuvenate the educational spectrum will not cause unemployment to fall. Thus, as Mugabe directs his funds to projects other than education, his state will get less and less revenue over time. Nevertheless, there is no definite prospect of an increased emphasis on education from the Zimbabwean government. The low quality of educational provision directly undermines Zimbabwean state stability as reflected in Fragile State Index (The Fund for Peace 2014).
Going back to Slovenia, an excellent provision of another public service-policing- catches scholarly attention. A balanced police force is an essential factor for the proper functioning of a society. Therefore, a capable Ministry of the Interior of Slovenia effectively provides an unbiased, well-trained and decisive cohort of policemen. 9000 servicemen, with a density of 44.3 police officers per 10000 inhabitants, guarantee the protection of citizens’ lives, personal safety and property. Although Slovenian police is strictly centralized, it functions as an independent body within the framework of Ministry of the Interior (OSCE n.d.). Therefore, because of this degree of independence, the country’s police do not have any political or party affiliations. Thus, in face of a probable, yet unlikely, crisis, Slovenian police will always serve the state itself. Moreover, in order to become a full-time police officer, each aspiring Slovenian has to go through a two-year, intensive study program and basic training (OSCE n.d.). As a result, the force is not only objective and loyal to the state, but also highly educated; as a matter of fact, a vast majority of Slovene police are well-spoken in English. Furthermore, due to the effective provision of policing by Slovenian government, there are not any cases of arbitrary detention, disappearance or existence of political prisoners (State Department of the United States 2013). These impressive feats of Slovenian police further strengthen the country’s position in terms of stability.
Zimbabwe State Police (ZPR), a force of 20000 officers, is a complete antipode of its Slovenian counterpart. ZPR is directly linked to Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party (CIA 2014); thus, it functions as the President’s tool of suppressing any anti-governmental sentiment, especially the opposing Movement for Democracy party (Makwerere David 2012). Although ZPR does not lack manpower to strictly enforce the law, the police are clearly devoid of proper mobility and adequate response to crime. As testified by 7% percent increase in the overall crime rate and 40% increase in robberies in 2012, “limping” of law enforcement force further encourages criminals to diversify their illegal activities (Bureau of Diplomatic Security 2014). Therefore, organized home invasions are becoming a common sight in Harare’s northern suburbs. Besides, even in central business districts of capital, groups of 2-3 criminals are frequently mugging people (Bureau of Diplomatic Security 2014). A spurring variety and frequency of crime deters an economic growth of the country. Specifically, as Zimbabwean police does not have ability to properly monitor the safety of inter-city highways, fewer businesses are willing to outsource their production outside of Harare.
Speaking of roads, dimly lit highways, total of 18481 kilometers, are the main negative externality in Zimbabwean transportation (CIA 2014). The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe reports 20000 official vehicle accidents per year; majority of those contain instances of drunk driving. Furthermore, dimly light highways further blur the existent situation on Zimbabwean highways. Lastly, an increased level of corruption among policemen, such as permits to drive illegally, contributes to the dangerousness of out-of-Harare highways. As a result, the US embassy in Zimbabwe prohibits its employees at night out of the capital (Bureau of Diplomatic Security 2014).
Meanwhile in Slovenia, inter-city highways, total of 38980 kilometers of paver road, are demarcated very clearly (CIA 2014). Coupled with well-oriented system of connectivity, large fines for speeding render Slovenian roads impenetrable for crime as well as a boon for the country’s economy.
Both Slovenia and Zimbabwe, at some point, have been members of grater states – Yugoslavia and the United Kingdom respectively. As of 2015, Slovenia and Zimbabwe are sovereign, independent, self-governing entities. Although Zimbabwe was eleven years ahead of Slovenia in a rush of gaining independence, the latter state still trumps the former with an enormous margin. As an eternal question about the factors for stable states emerges, the answer should be found in government’s provision of public services. Courtesy of the these government provisions was Slovenia, with a territory of 20000 square kilometers and a population of 2 million, able to achieve a much higher standard of living than Zimbabwe- a state of 390000 square kilometers and 13 million people (CIA 2014). However, this unilateral approach of solely concentrating on governmental provisions may ignore the differences between state revenues. In order to fully comprehend the extent of how government should allocate money to attain stability, upcoming researches in comparative politics have to take into consideration the whole picture- total cash flow of a country.
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