National Conflict in Czechoslovakia
The Making and Remaking of a State, 1918-1987
Carol Skalnik Leff


Czechoslovak domestic politics, including the long-standing policy dilemmas stemming from the so-called Slovak question, are usually approached from a historical standpoint. Here Carol Leff views the subject from a fresh analytic perspective. The Slovaks' dissatisfaction with their status in the constitutional order has dogged Czechoslovakia from the country's inception after World War I, and the substantial Slovak minority (now about one-third of the population) has recurrently complicated the state's struggle for self-definition, stability, and even survival. Professor Leff establishes a systematic analytic framework for the discussion of the Czech-Slovak relationship and how it has affected and been affected by state power and the political system.

Czechoslovakia's history is virtually a museum for the major European political alternatives of the twentieth century, and this book is an experiment in applying the comparative methodology of political science not to cross-national studies but to the analysis of a single country over time. The author organizes consideration of policy making on the Slovak national question around three component elements and their impact on effective problem solving: the institutional structure of the pre-Munich republic and the postwar socialist state, leadership values and premises relevant to the disposition of the national question, and patterns of Czech and Slovak leadership interaction.

First published in 1988.

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