Since becoming an independent country after its split from Czechoslovakia on January 1, 1993, Slovakia's development from communism to political and economic democracy, underway when it was part of postCommunist Czechoslovakia, has been difficult and halting. Of all of the ex-Communist countries in central and Eastern Europe, Slovakia has been among the slowest to change. This book discusses this phenomenon, showing how Slovakia's political conservatism, economic poverty, multinational society, and desire for international recognition have shaped its development since independence.
The book is divided into eight chapters. The first chapter explores Slovak relations with Czechs from the establishment of the new Czechoslovak state in 1918 through the interwar years, World War II, and the years of Communist rule until its collapse in 1989, focusing on the growth of Slovak nationalism. The second chapter explains how this Slovak nationalism gave rise to Slovak separatism and led eventually, and inevitably, to the breakaway from Czechoslovakia at the end of 1992 and the creation of an independent Slovak state.
The theme of the next three chapters is the price the Slovaks paid for this independence. The book examines the political, economic, and sociocultural problems the new Slovak state experienced as it tried to establish its national identity, develop a democratic political system, move toward a more prosperous free market economy, and maintain societal unity and cohesion.
In the context of this theme, chapter 3 explains how and why Slovak society supported the authoritarian leadership of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. It discusses Meciar's authoritarian approach, in particu