Slovakia since Independence: A Struggle for Democracy

By Minton F. Goldman | Go to book overview

Conclusions

Since it gained independence in the beginning of 1993, Slovakia has made slow but steady progress away from the Communist dictatorship that ruled the country for 40 years toward something resembling a West European style of parliamentary democracy with political pluralism and respect for fundamental freedoms of speech, press, and assembly. There are no formal restrictions on what people can say politically, there is no official censorship, and a multiplicity of political parties are free to compete for voter support in local and national elections without fear of government restrictions and prohibitions. In the economic sphere, post-independence Slovakia has made extraordinary strides toward the free market. By late 1997, 79 percent of gross domestic product came from the free sector of the country's economic life. In the sociocultural sphere the Slovak government has tried to promote social peace and harmony among its minorities by some concessions designed to accommodate demands for cultural recognition. It also has diminished gender-based discrimination, at least in the public sphere, where women hold high positions in both the legislative and the executive branches of the national government. Finally, post-independence Slovakia gradually has strengthened ties with the West. Leaders of most of the major political parties look forward to the day when Slovakia will become a full member of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), though they also want to maintain friendly and cooperative relations with Russia and Slovakia's nearest neighbors in central and Eastern Europe, notably Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Romania. In sum, there is little

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