Present-day Slovakia was settled by Slavic Slovaks about the 6th century. They were politically united in the Moravian empire in the 9th century. In 907, the Germans and the Magyars conquered the Moravian state, and the Slovaks fell under Hungarian control from the 10th century up until 1918. When the Hapsburg-ruled empire collapsed in 1918 following World War I, the Slovaks joined the Czech lands of Bohemia, Moravia, and part of Silesia to form the new joint state of Czechoslovakia. In March 1939, Germany occupied Czechoslovakia, established a German “protectorate,” and created a puppet state out of Slovakia with Monsignor Josef Tiso as prime minister. The country was liberated from the Germans by the Soviet army in the spring of 1945, and Slovakia was restored to its prewar status and rejoined to a new Czechoslovakian state.
After the Communist Party took power in Feb. 1948, Slovakia was again subjected to a centralized Czech-dominated government, and antagonism between the two republics developed. In Jan. 1969, the nation became the Slovak Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia.
Nearly 42 years of Communist rule for Slovakia ended when Vaclav Havel became president of Czechoslovakia in 1989 and democratic political reform began. However, with the demise of Communist power, a strong Slovak nationalist movement resurfaced, and the rival relationship between the two states increased. By the end of 1991, discussions between Slovak and Czech political leaders turned to whether the Czech and Slovak republics should continue to coexist within the federal structure or be divided into two independent states
On 17 November 1989, a series of public protests known as the "Velvet Revolution" began and led to the downfall of Communist Party rule in Czechoslovakia. A transition government formed in December 1989, and the first free elections in Czechoslovakia since 1948 took place in June 1990. In 1992, negotiations on the new federal constitution deadlocked over the issue of Slovak autonomy. In the latter half of 1992, agreement emerged to dissolve Czechoslovakia peacefully. On 1 January 1993, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic each simultaneously and peacefully proclaimed their existence. Both states attained immediate recognition from the United States of America and from their European neighbors.
In the days following the "Velvet Revolution," Charter 77 and other groups united to become the Civic Forum, an umbrella group championing bureaucratic reform and civil liberties. Its leader, the playwright and former dissident Václav Havel won election as President of Czechoslovakia in December 1989. The Slovak counterpart of the Civic Forum, Public Against Violence, expressed the same ideals.
In the June 1990 elections, Civic Forum and Public Against Violence won landslide victories. Civic Forum and Public Against Violence found, however, that although they had successfully completed their primary objective — the overthrow of the communist régime — they proved less effective as governing parties. In the 1992 elections, a spectrum of new parties replaced both Civic Forum and Public Against Violence.
Czecho-Slovak/Czechoslovak Republic (ČSR)
"Highland territories" of Hungary
Czechoslovak Republic (ČSR)
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (ČSSR)
(1960–1990) Czech Socialist Republic
Slovak Socialist Republic
Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (ČSFR)
(1990–1992) Czech Republic
|Czecho-Slovak Republic (ČSR) incl. autonomous Slovakia andTranscarpathian Ukraine|
WWII Slovak Republic
(further) "Highland territories" of Hungary
In elections held in June 1992, Václav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party won in the Czech lands on a platform of economic reform, and Vladimír Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) emerged as the leading party in Slovakia, basing its appeal on the fairness of Slovak demands for autonomy. Mečiar and Klaus negotiated the agreement to divide Czechoslovakia, and Mečiar's party — HZDS — ruled Slovakia for most of its first five years as an independent state, except for a 9-month period in 1994 after a vote of no-confidence, during which a reformist government under Prime Minister Jozef Moravčík operated.
The first president of newly independent Slovakia, Michal Kováč, promised to make Slovakia "the Switzerland of Eastern Europe". The first prime minister, Vladimír Mečiar, had served as the prime minister of the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia since 1992.
Rudolf Schuster won election as president in 1999. Vladimír Mečiar's semi-authoritarian government allegedly breached democratic norms and the rule of law before its replacement after the parliamentary elections of 1998 by a coalition led by Mikuláš Dzurinda.
The first Dzurinda government made numerous political and economic reforms that enabled Slovakia to enter the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), close virtually all chapters in European Union (EU) negotiations, and make itself a strong candidate for accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, the popularity of the governing parties declined sharply, and several new parties that earned relatively high levels of support in public opinion polls appeared on the political scene. Mečiar remained the leader (in opposition) of the HZDS, which continued to receive the support of 20% or more of the population during the first Dzurinda government.
In the September 2002 parliamentary election, a last-minute surge in support for Prime Minister Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) gave him a mandate for a second term. He formed a government with three other center-right parties: the Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK), the Christian Democrats (KDH) and the Alliance of the New Citizen (ANO). The coalition won a narrow (three-seat) majority in the parliament. The government strongly supports NATO and EU integration and has stated that it will continue the democratic and free market-oriented reforms begun by the first Dzurinda government.
The new coalition has as its main priorities—gaining of NATO and EU invitations, attracting foreign investment, and reforming social services such as the health-care system. Vladimír Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, which received about 27% of the vote in 1998 (almost 900,000 votes) received only 19.5% (about 560,000 votes) in 2002 and again went into opposition, unable to find coalition partners. The opposition comprises the HZDS, Smer (led by Róbert Fico), and the Communists, who obtained about 6% of the popular vote.
Initially, Slovakia experienced more difficulty than the Czech Republic in developing a modern market economy. Slovakia joined NATO on 29 March 2004 and the EU on 1 May 2004. Slovakia was, on 10 October 2005, for the first time elected to a two-year term on the UN Security Council (for 2006–2007).
The latest elections took place on 17 June 2006, where leftist Smer won elections with 29.14% (around 670 000 votes) of the popular vote and formed coalition with Slota's Slovak National Party and Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. Their opposition comprises the former ruling parties: the SDKÚ, the SMK and the KDH.