salami tactics

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Calque of Hungarian szalámitaktika, coined by Hungarian communist Mátyás Rákosi to describe the method, "cutting them off like slices of salami", by which the Hungarian Communist Party dealt with political opponents under his leadership.


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salami tactics pl (plural only)

  1. The piecemeal removal or scaling back of something (especially political opposition); a gradual attack on an opposing position, group, etc.
    • 2001, Brian Whitaker, "The great survivor", The Guardian, 3 January 2001:
      At another level, there are what the Americans describe as Iraq's "salami tactics" - picking at weak points in the rules of sanctions, preferably in ways that cause disagreement between the US and other countries.
    • 2010, Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22, McClelland & Stewart (2010), →ISBN, page 184:
      The tactics were more those of 1948 in Prague than St. Petersburg in 1917, consisting of the slow acquisition of positions in the army and the police, and the application of what used to be called “salami tactics” against other parties.
    • 2011, "And now for something completely different", The Economist, 2 June 2011:
      Senior Tories might thus prefer to avoid a further public backlash over the loss of any of the BBC's channels. So, salami tactics are more likely than wholesale closures. BBC Four is likely to be stripped down and relaunched as an arts channel, making it a more direct competitor to BSkyB's Sky Arts.

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