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Roots of Robert Fico shooting lie in Slovakia’s bitter divisions – POLITICO

So how did Slovakia get to where it is today – so torn between liberals and traditionalists, democrats and thugs, tolerance and its opposite – where political disputes are now settled by guns?

Social boost

Social division was always going to disrupt politics in Slovakia. After the 1989 revolution in Eastern Europe, the former communist country suddenly plunged into a ruthless version of capitalism – before being abruptly divorced by the Czechs, who had been a stable national partner for 75 years in the former Czechoslovakia.

The social whiplash caused by these sudden transformations turned the city against the village, the young against the old, the Slovak patriots against the Czechoslovak internationalists, as all sought to gain a foothold in unfamiliar territory.

Social division was always going to disrupt politics in Slovakia. | Vladimir Simicek/AFP via Getty Images

For young Robert Fico, who was only 25 when the Communists lost power, the 1989 revolution must have been a shock: he had just finished his law studies and joined the Communist Party, when the Warsaw Pact broke up along with the social order. he had trained to succeed.

Fico later claimed that he “didn’t notice” 1989, because at the time he was working at the Department of Justice and preparing for a study trip to the United States – thus aligning himself from the start with a large part of the population who felt nostalgia for Communism and indifference towards the democratic West.

Young and talented, Fico joined the Communist successor party and was elected to Parliament in 1992. Although he spent most of the 1990s in Strasbourg, working at the European Court of Human Rights, it retained enough influence in domestic politics to launch a successful “third way” socialist party, Smer (Direction), in 1999. It continued to dominate Slovak politics for the next quarter century.


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