Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

1. Máj

BOTH the pioneers marching in the parades with their red scarves on and the party apparatchiks waving from the tribunes would be surprised that someday there would be no socialism to celebrate and no Czechoslovakia to celebrate it in.

BOTH the pioneers marching in the parades with their red scarves on and the party apparatchiks waving from the tribunes would be surprised that someday there would be no socialism to celebrate and no Czechoslovakia to celebrate it in.

And what’s more, labour would not be the only thing remembered on May 1. In an ironic twist of fate, the favourite holiday of communists past and present would have to share dates with Slovakia’s entry into the European Union, a Western club, once a symbol of capitalism and freedom.

However, more and more people feel the irony is vanishing. For one, the EU is seen as becoming socialist. And interestingly, the notion sticks even in countries that remember the real deal.

Secondly, the union and its bailout mechanism caused the collapse of the local right-wing government and the later landslide victory of the left-wing Smer party, whose leader Robert Fico famously said that he did not notice the November revolution of 1989.

Let’s hope that the EU gets back on the right track and Slovakia survives the second Fico government without permanent damage. There is some hope: the new cabinet’s manifesto is vague and brings few ideas. But at least there is no mention of red scarves, nationalisation or May Day public parades.

Top stories

How did Communism happen in Czechoslovakia?

For the 40 years, Czechs and Slovaks would celebrate February 25 as Victorious February, even though the enthusiasm of most of those who supported Communists in 1948 would very quickly evaporate.

Prime Minister Klement Gottwald (right) swears an oath into the hands of President Edvard Benes on February 27, 1948 at the Prague Castle.

Cemetery with a remarkable creative concept Photo

The shapes of tombstones were prescribed until 1997

Vrakuňa Cemetery in Bratislava

Being young is harder than it used to be

The failure of older generations to sympathise with youth means politics are primarily a contest of who can hand out more gifts to old people.

Young Slovaks have problems finding proper jobs.

Historian: After 1948, Czechoslovakia was paralysed with fear

On February 25, Czechs and Slovaks mark 70 years since the rise of Communism in their common state. Historian Jan Pešek talks about the coup and its aftermath.

Demonstration in Prague, Wenceslas' Square, on February 28, 1948.