Just 20 years into statehood, nationalism is a common feature of Slovak politics. Still, when Robert Fico, the prime minister, said the country had been “established for Slovaks, not for minorities” in a recent speech, both the tenor and timing of the rhetoric raised eyebrows.
Mr Fico has backpedalled since the late-February address, insisting that his words were being misinterpreted. Still, more than a few observers have opined that the wording reeked of old-fashioned scapegoating as a means to distract from a 15% unemployment rate, the highest in nearly a decade. “The prime minister is so used to having a [parliamentary] majority that he has decided to flaunt his intolerance of minorities in the hope that it will hide his inability to manage the economic crisis and rising unemployment,” read a recent piece in SME, Slovakia’s most-influential daily.
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