The Legacy of Socialist Constitutionalism in Slovakia: The Right of the Slovak Nation to Self-Determination

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Tomáš Gábriš



Albeit in 1918 the Slovak nation voluntarily became a “branch” of the single Czechoslovak nation and of the unitary Czechoslovak state, the connection with the Czechs was rather perceived as a strategic move until the Slovak nation develops its capacity for the execution of its own right to self-determination. In the context of Czechoslovakia being under pressure of Hitler’s Germany in 1938, Slovak autonomists managed to exploit the situation and Slovakia was granted autonomy within Czechoslovakia. Soon thereafter, in March 1939, an “independent” Slovak State was created, in fact being under direct control of Nazi Germany. The authoritarian political regime of the War-Time Slovakia was soon rejected by Slovaks themselves and the Slovak nation was rather willing to sacrifice its independence in order to return to the democratic regime of Czechoslovakia in 1945. Still, there were attempts to change the position of Slovaks and Slovakia within Czechoslovakia, which eventually materialized in the form of the federalization of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in 1968/69, giving Slovaks for the first time (apart from the Hitler-sponsored statehood in 1939–1945) their formal republican statehood, albeit only within a system of limited socialist federalism. Still, this allowed for a relatively simple change of this formal statehood into an internationally recognized independent Slovak Republic in 1993. The socialist constitutional recognition of self-determination of the Slovak nation in the form of a Socialist Republic thus paved the way to the currently existing Slovakia, hence making it the most important legacy of the (Czecho-)Slovak socialist history.

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