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Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe Volume 2: International and Transnational Factors$
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Jan Zielonka and Alex Pravda

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199244096

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019924409X.001.0001

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Slovakia: Misreading the Western Message

Slovakia: Misreading the Western Message

Chapter:
(p.363) 13 Slovakia: Misreading the Western Message
Source:
Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe Volume 2: International and Transnational Factors
Author(s):

Ivo Samson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/019924409X.003.0014

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

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