Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Slovakia

Period of democratic transition: 1989
Pro-democracy civic movement: present

Slovakia is a part of the former Czechoslovakia, which was created in 1918 following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Soviet troops helped establish the Communist People's Party of Czechoslovakia in 1948, and the country was renamed the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in 1960. In 1968, Soviet tanks crushed the so-called Prague Spring, a period of halting political liberalization.

Despite relatively "quiet" times during the 1970s and 1980s, the group Charter 77 formed a loose alliance of citizens calling for the protection of civil and human rights in 1977. November 1989 saw the emergence of massive nonviolent civic protests involving hundreds of thousands of participants in the urban center. Charter 77 united with other groups to form the Civic Forum, led by dissident playwright Vaclav Havel, and rapidly gained followers, while other organizations liked People Against Violence also emerged. Protests in Bratislava as well as Prague and other major cities involved as many as a million protesters calling for liberalization and democracy. The upsurge of protests, called the "Velvet Revolution," culminated in a nationwide general strike on November 28, 1989, which led to the announcement by Communist authorities that they would end their monopoly on power. By the end of 1989, roundtable talks conducted under constant civic pressure paved the way to parliamentary elections in June 1990 that were won by parties representing the democratic civic forces.

Slovakia emerged as a sovereign and independent republic when it separated from the Czech Republic on January 1, 1993. From 1993 to 1998, Vladimir Meciar, twice prime minister, battled with then president Michal Kovac over executive and governmental powers and opposed direct presidential elections. Meciar was rejected in an election in 1998, and elections have since strengthened steadily, with parliamentary elections in 2006 considered free and fair.

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