This past week the protests forced the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico, but they have shown little sign of abating as the demonstrators, many of them young people, appear determined to safeguard hard-won freedoms. The tumult in Slovakia has now distinguished this country from others in the region, where a loss of faith in democracy has prompted voters to turn to populist leaders offering a strong hand as a remedy. In Hungary and Poland, those leaders have steadily embedded networks of cronies, dismantled democratic institutions and promoted what they say are traditional, national values over Western ones. But in Slovakia, a country smaller than West Virginia with a population of around five million, people are calling for something else: a recommitment to Western democratic values and the rule of law. For the past three Fridays — despite freezing temperatures, snow and rain — men, women and children have demonstrated in numbers unseen since the fight to break from the yoke of the Soviet Union.
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