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We examined the ways in which Slovakia’s structural characteristics (socio-economic, ethnic and religious differences) were (mis)used by political elites in formulating the political communication appeals for the elections. The political elite have not effectively addressed three most-sensitive and constant socially-sensitive issues: long-term unemployment, regional disparities and corruption. All these problems reinforced the public’s recent dissatisfaction with democracy, triggered anti-EU attitudes and contributed to the rise of populist and extremist politics. For Slovakia – as much as for any other country – the most important issue now is if the government will be able to deliver short-term benefits, particularly to improve employment and transport infrastructure and investments to remedy regional disparities (especially the deep difference between the capital, Bratislava Region and the rest of the country). Given the European Union’s multiple crises (economic, refugee and Brexit) it is uncertain if the EU will again function as the democratic anchor, especially as several Slovak parties (SaS, OĽaNO, ĽS-NS) have used strong anti-EU appeals. The future of Slovakia depends on both the improvement of the economy (namely an increase in employment) and the ability of progressive (liberal, democratic and pro-integration) forces to overcome fragmentation and offer a new political programme that would unite the majority of the population. That would lower corruption, transformation costs and overcome divisions and conflicts between the winners and losers.

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