Chapter

Slovakia: Misreading the Western Message

Ivo Samson

in Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe Volume 2: International and Transnational Factors

Published in print June 2001 | ISBN: 9780199244096
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600371 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019924409X.003.0014

Series: Oxford Studies in Democratization

 Slovakia: Misreading the Western Message

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Shows the relative failure of Western pressure aimed at improving the democratic record of successive Slovak governments led by the former Prime Minister Vladimir Mečiar. The chapter points to several factors that contributed to the ineffectiveness of Western influence. Firstly, the manner in which Slovakia achieved independence created unfavourable conditions for its democratic consolidation. The division of Czechoslovakia was accomplished against the will of the majority of Slovaks and officially presented as a rejection of rapid and radical transformation. Secondly, a new proud and insecure State tried to assert its independence of all external actors. Western pressure was often considered as alien to Slovak culture and in conflict with Slovak national interest. Thirdly, the former Prime Minister, Vladimir Mečiar, misread Western determination to bring about democratic reforms in Slovakia. It was wrongly believed that regardless of its many democratic flaws, Slovakia would soon become a member of the European Union and NATO, simply because of its unique geostrategic importance and decent economic performance. Bratislava thought that allowing free and relatively fair elections in Slovakia would be enough to satisfy Western actors. However, the West wanted Slovakia to embrace a Western‐type of liberal constitutionalism before considering its possible membership in the EU and NATO. Overall, Slovakia's misperception of its geopolitical uniqueness and paradoxes of its domestic political development led to serious misunderstandings about Western responses.

Keywords: Czechoslovak Federation; democratic consolidation; democratic reform; elections; European Union; independence; liberal constitutionalism; NATO; Slovakia; Vladimir Mečiar

Chapter.  8074 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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