Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe - Vol. 2

By Jan Zielonka; Alex Pravda | Go to book overview

13 Slovakia: Misreading the Western Message

Ivo Samson

This chapter shows the failure of Western pressure aimed at improving the democratic record of successive Slovak governments led by the former prime minister, Vladimír Mečiar, until 1998. A new, proud, and insecure state tried to assert and manifest its independence from foreign actors. Unlike in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic Western pressure was often considered as being alien to Slovak culture and in conflict with Slovak national interest. But the Mečiar government also misread the Western determination to bring about democratic reforms in Slovakia. It 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. It apparently believed that allowing free and relatively fair elections in Slovakia would be enough to satisfy Western actors. But the United States and Western European countries also expected Slovakia to fully respect the right of ethnic minorities, liberalize the media, restrict the powers of secret services, and strictly observe constitutional provisions. In other words, the mere establishment of an electoral type of democracy could not be sufficient, and the West wanted Slovakia to embrace a Western-type of liberal constitutionalism before considering its possible membership in the EU and NATO. In its 1997 Opinion on the Slovak application to the EU the European Commission concluded that 'although the institutional framework defined by the Slovak constitution responds to the needs of a parliamentary democracy where elections are free and fair, nevertheless the situation is unsatisfactory, both in terms of the institutions and the extent to which they are rooted in political life'. 1

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Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Oxford Studies in Democratization ii
  • Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Figures ix
  • List of Tables x
  • List of Contributors xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I Comparative Perspectives 30
  • 1: Western Actors and the Promotion of Democracy 31
  • 2: Regionalization and Democratic Consolidation 58
  • 3: The Impact of External Economic Factors 76
  • 4: International Security and Democracy Building 112
  • 5: The Internationalization of Ethnic Strife 139
  • 6: International Migration and the Consolidation of Democracy 163
  • Appendix 191
  • 7: Crime, Corruption, and Politics 192
  • Appendix: the Surveys 250
  • Part II National Perspectives 256
  • 9: Estonia and Latvia 257
  • 10: Hungary 281
  • 11: Poland 311
  • 12: The Czech Republic 325
  • 13: Slovakia 363
  • 14: Building Democracy in Romania 383
  • 15: Bulgaria and Macedonia 413
  • 16: Former Yugoslavia 437
  • 17: Belarus and Ukraine 455
  • 18: Russia and the West 485
  • 19: Conclusions 511
  • Select Bibliography 533
  • Index 542
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