Communist Party of Czechoslovakia

Last updated
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
Komunistická strana Československa
General Secretary Václav Šturc (first)
Ladislav Adamec (last)
Founded16 May 1921 (1921-05-16)
Dissolved23 April 1992
Split from Czechoslovak Social Democratic Workers' Party
Succeeded by
HeadquartersCentral Committee, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Newspaper Rudé právo
Pravda
Munkás
Youth wing Young Communist League of Czechoslovakia (1921–1936),
Czechoslovak Union of Youth (1949–1968),
Socialist Youth Union (1970–1989)
Paramilitary wing People's Militias
Ideology Communism
Marxism–Leninism
Stalinism (until 1956)
Socialism with a human face (1968)
Husakism (after 1969)
Political position Far-left
International affiliation Comintern (1921–1943)
Cominform (1947–1956)
Colours  Red
Party flag
Flag of the KSC.svg

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (Czech and Slovak: Komunistická strana Československa, KSČ) was a Communist and Marxist–Leninist political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992. It was a member of the Comintern. Between 1929 and 1953, it was led by Klement Gottwald. The KSČ was the sole governing party in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic though it was a leading party along with the Slovak branch and four other legally permitted non-communist parties. After its election victory in 1946, it seized power in the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état and established a one-party state allied with the Soviet Union. Nationalization of virtually all private enterprises followed.

Contents

The KSČ was a Communist party, based on democratic centralism, a principle conceived by Russian Marxist scholar Vladimir Lenin, which entails democratic and open discussion of policy issues within the party, followed by the requirement of total unity in upholding the agreed policies. The highest body within the KSČ was the Party Congress, which convened every five years. When the Congress was not in session, the Central Committee was the highest body. Because the Central Committee met twice a year, most day-to-day duties and responsibilities were vested in the Politburo. The party leader was the head of government and held the office of either General Secretary, Premier or head of state, or some of the three offices concurrently, but never all three at the same time.

The Party was committed to communism and held Marxism–Leninism, a fusion of the original ideas of German philosopher and economic theorist Karl Marx, and Lenin, introduced by Joseph Stalin in 1929, became formalized as the party's guiding ideology and would remain so throughout the rest of its existence. The party pursued state socialism, under which all industries were nationalized, and a command economy was implemented. In 1968, party leader Alexander Dubček proposed reforms that included a democratic process and initiated the Prague Spring; this led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Under pressure from the Kremlin, all reforms were repealed, party leadership became taken over by its more authoritarian wing, and a massive non-bloody purge of party members was conducted.

In 1989, the party leadership bowed to popular pressure during the Velvet Revolution and agreed to call the first contested election since 1946. In 1990, the centre-based Civic Forum won the election and the Communist Party stood down. That November, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia became a federation of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and the Communist Party of Slovakia.

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was declared to be a criminal organisation in the Czech Republic by the 1993 Act on Illegality of the Communist Regime and on Resistance Against It.

History

1921–45

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was founded at the congress of the Czechoslovak Social-Democratic Party (Left), held in Prague May 14–16, 1921. [1] Rudé právo , previously the organ of the Left Social-Democrats, became the main organ of the new party. As a first chairman was elected Václav Šturc, first vice-chairman was Bohumír Šmeral and second vice-chairman was Vaclav Bolen. The party was one of some twenty political parties that competed within the democratic framework of the First Czechoslovak Republic, but it was never in government. In 1925 parliamentary election the party gained 934,223 votes (13.2%, 2nd place) and 41 seats.

The party was the Czechoslovak section of the Communist International. As of 1928 the party was the second-largest section of the International, with an estimated membership of around 138,000, [2] more than twice the membership of the French Communist Party and nearly five times the membership of the Chinese Communist Party at the time. [3]

Klement Gottwald, leader of the party from 1929 until his death in 1953 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R90009, Budapest, II. Weltfestspiele, Festumzug, tschechische Delegation (cropped KG).jpg
Klement Gottwald, leader of the party from 1929 until his death in 1953

In 1929 Klement Gottwald became party Secretary-General after the purging from it of various oppositional elements some of whom allied themselves to Trotsky and the International Left Opposition. In 1929 parliamentary election the party gained 753,220 votes (10.2%, 4th place) and 30 seats. In 1935 parliamentary election the party held its 30 seats with 849,495 votes (10.32%, 4th place).

The party was banned in October 1938, [4] [5] [6] but continued to exist as an underground organisation. [7] Following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, anti-German protests broke out in Prague in October 1939. In response, the Comintern ordered the party to oppose the protests, which they blamed on "chauvinist elements". [7]

During World War II many KSČ leaders sought refuge in the Soviet Union, where they prepared to broaden the party's power base once the war ended. In the early postwar period the Soviet-supported Czechoslovak communists launched a sustained drive that culminated in their seizure of power in 1948. Once in control, KSČ developed an organizational structure and mode of rule patterned closely after those of CPSU.

1945–69

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was in a coalition government from 1945 to 1948. After the war the party grew rapidly, reaching one million members by the time of the 1946 elections: [3] at these elections it became the largest party in Parliament, and party chairman Klement Gottwald became prime minister in a free election.

Following the Communist coup d'état of 1948, when free elections and other political freedoms were effectively abolished, power was formally held by the National Front, a coalition in which the KSČ held two-thirds of the seats while the remaining one-third were shared among five other political parties. However, KSČ held a de facto absolute monopoly on political power, and the other parties within the National Front were little more than auxiliaries. Even the governmental structure of Czechoslovakia existed primarily to implement policy decisions made within the KSČ.

A dispute broke out between Gottwald and the second most-powerful man in the country, party General Secretary Rudolf Slánský, over the extent to which Czechoslovakia should conform with the Soviet model. In 1951, Slánský and several other senior Communists were arrested and charged with participating in a "Trotskyite-Titoite-Zionist conspiracy". They were subjected to a show trial in 1952 (the Prague Trials) and Slánský and 10 other defendants were executed. [8]

In the early 1960s, Czechoslovakia underwent an economic downturn, and in 1968, the KSČ was taken over by reformers led by Alexander Dubček. [9] He started a period of liberalization known as the Prague Spring in which he attempted to implement "socialism with a human face".

The Soviet Union believed the process of liberalization would end state socialism in the country and on 21 August 1968, Warsaw Pact forces invaded. Subsequently, the Soviet justification for the invasion would become known as the Brezhnev Doctrine.

1969–92

In April 1969, Dubček was removed as party General Secretary (replaced by Gustáv Husák) and expelled in 1970. During the period of normalization that followed, the party was dominated by two factions: moderates and hardliners.

Moderates and pragmatists

Moderates and pragmatists were represented by Gustáv Husák who led the neostalinist wing of KSČ leadership. As a moderate or pragmatic, he was pressed by hardliners, most notably Vasil Biľak. An important Slovak Communist Party functionary from 1943 to 1950, Husák was arrested in 1951 and sentenced to three years, later increased to life imprisonment, for "bourgeois nationalism" during the Stalinist purges of the era. Released in 1960 and rehabilitated in 1963, Husák refused any political position in Antonín Novotný's régime but after Novotný's fall he became deputy prime minister during the Prague Spring. After Dubček's resignation Husák was named KSČ First Secretary in April 1969 and president of the republic in July 1975. Above all, Husák was a survivor who learned to accommodate the powerful political forces surrounding him and he denounced Dubček after 1969.

Other prominent moderates/pragmatics who were still in power by 1987 included:

Gustav Husak, leader of the party between 1969-87 and president of Czechoslovakia in 1975-89 Gustav Husak - oriznuto.JPG
Gustáv Husák, leader of the party between 1969–87 and president of Czechoslovakia in 1975–89

These leaders generally supported the reforms instituted under Dubček during the late 1960s but successfully made the transition to orthodox party rule following the invasion and Dubček's decline from power. Subsequently, they adopted a more flexible stance regarding economic reform and dissident activity.

Hardliners

Key members of this faction included:

  • Vasiľ Biľak, their leader, was a Rusyn from Eastern Slovakia who had been member of the Presidium since 1968 and was Chairman of the party's Ideological Commission
  • Karel Hoffman, a Central Committee Secretary and Presidium member;
  • Antonín Kapek, Presidium member;
  • Jan Fojtík, Secretary;
  • Alois Indra, Presidium member and Chairman of the Federal Assembly (replaced the National Assembly under 1968 federation law); and
  • Miloš Jakeš, Chairman of the Central Supervisory and Auditing Commission and Presidium member (replaced Gustáv Husák as the Party's General Secretary in 1987).

These hardliners opposed economic and political reforms and took a harsh stand on dissent.

Milos Jakes, the last communist leader (1987-89), a target of folk humor M Jakes Praha 2014.JPG
Milos Jakeš, the last communist leader (1987–89), a target of folk humor

The party's hegemony ended with the Velvet Revolution in 1989. In November, Jakeš and the entire Presidium resigned. Jakeš was succeeded by Karel Urbanek, who only held power for about a month before the party formally abandoned power in December. Later that month, Husák, who retained the presidency after standing down as general secretary, was forced to swear in the country's first non-Communist government in 41 years.

Federal party and dissolution

At the 18th party congress held November 3–4, 1990, the party was rebaptized as KSČS and became a federation of two parties: the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) and the Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS). [10] [11] Pavol Kanis served as the chairman of the Federal Council of KSČS. [12] However, the two constituent organizations of the federal party were moving in different directions politically and there was great tension between them. [11] KSS, the Slovak constituent party of KSČS, was renamed as Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) on January 26, 1991. Whilst no longer a communist party per se, SDL formally remained as the Slovak constituent party of KSČS. [10]

In August 1991, upon the request of SDL, the party mutated into the Federation of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and the Party of the Democratic Left (Federácie KSČM a SDĽ). [13] KSČM unsuccessfully appealed to two Slovak communist splinter parties, the Communist Party of Slovakia – 91 (KSS '91) and the Union of Communists of Slovakia (ZKS), to join the Federation. [14] At the first SDL congress in December 1991, SDL formally withdrew from the Federation with the KSČM. [10] The Federation was formally declared dissolved in April 1992. [15]

Claimed reformation

On 10 March 1995 a party named Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was registered as a political party in the Czech Republic and on the 22 April 1995 Miroslav Štěpán was elected its General Secretary. The party claimed to be the heir to KSČ and rejected the claims of KSČM on the basis of their revisionist positions. The majority of remaining communists rejected their claim to represent the old party and continued their political career as members of KSČM. In 1999 the party changed its name to The Party of Czech Communists (SČK). Their official page is http://www.ksc.cz/ and still uses the old acronym.

In 2001 the party underwent its first split, when a part of it split off to form the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia - Czechoslovak Labour Party (KSČ-ČSSP) led by Ludvík Zifčák, a former member of the National Police, who infiltrated the student protesters during the Velvet Revolution. The false story that a student named Martin Šmíd was killed by the state police was likely aided by the demostators confusing memories of him with a dead body of a student, because he was accidentally struck by his colleagues and blacked out. [16]

After Štěpán died in 2014 [17] and was replaced as General Secretary by Jiří Vábr, [18] the party had another split. Vojtěch Mišičák accused the party of passivity and broke off a new group called the Czech Communist Party 21 (KSČ21), whose current general secretary is Zdeněk Klímek. [19]

None of these parties ever had any electoral successes on the rare occasion they even ran candidates. Štěpán was a candidate in the 1996 and 1998 Czech Senate election for Bruntál. In 1996 he came fifth with 627 votes and the KSČM candidate Rostislav Harazin came 3rd with 5 294 votes. [20] In 1998 he came seventh with 716 votes and Harazin won with 7 852 votes in the first round and 10 154 in the second. [21]

Organisation

National

KSČ organization was based on the Leninist concept of democratic centralism, which provided for the election of party leaders at all levels but required that each level be fully subject to the control of the next higher unit. Accordingly, party programs and policies were directed from the top, and resolutions of higher organs were unconditionally binding on all lower organs and individual party members. In theory, policy matters were freely and openly discussed at congresses, conferences, membership meetings, and in the party press. In practice, however, these discussions merely reflected decisions made by a small contingent of top party officials.[ citation needed ]

The supreme KSČ organ was the party congress, which normally convened every five years for a session lasting less than one week. An exception was made with respect to the 14th Party Congress, which was held in August 1968 under Dubček's leadership. Held in semi-secrecy in a tractor factory in the opening days of the Soviet occupation, this congress denounced the invasion, and was later declared illegal, its proceedings stricken from party records, and a second, "legal" 14th Party Congress held in May 1971. Subsequent numbered congresses were held in April 1976, April 1981 and March 1986. Party congress theoretically was responsible for making basic policy decisions; in practice, however, it was the Presidium of the Central Committee that held the decision-making and policy-making responsibilities. The congress merely endorsed the reports and directives of the top party leadership. The statutory duties assigned the party congress included determination of the party's domestic and foreign policies; approval of the party program and statutes; and election of the Central Committee and the Central Supervisory and Auditing Commission, as well as discussion and approval of their reports.

Between congresses, KSČ's Central Committee (CC) was responsible for directing party activities and implementing general policy decisions. Party statutes also provided that CC functioned as the primary arm of KSČ control over the organs of federal government and the republics, National Front, and all cultural and professional organizations. Party members holding leading positions in these bodies were responsible directly to CC for the implementation of KSČ policies. In addition, CC screened nominations for all important government and party positions and selected the editor-in-chief of Rudé právo , the principal party newspaper. CC generally met in full session at least twice a year. In 1976, CC had 115 members and 45 candidates; in 1986, these figures were 135 and 62, respectively. In terms of composition, CC normally included leading party and government officials, military officials, and some celebrities.

CC, like the party congress, rarely acted as more than a rubber stamp of policy decisions made by KSČ's Presidium, except when factional infighting developed within the Presidium in 1968 and CC assumed crucial importance in resolving the dispute to oust First Secretary Novotný in favour of Dubček. Generally, decisions on which CC voted were reached beforehand so that votes taken at the sessions were unanimous. The Presidium, which conducted party work between full committee sessions, formally was elected by the CC; in reality, top party leaders determined its composition. In 1986, there were 11 full members and 6 candidate members.

CC's Secretariat acted as the party's highest administrative authority and as the nerve centre of the party's extensive control mechanism. The Secretariat supervised implementation of decisions made in the Presidium, controlled any movement up and down the party ladder, and directed work within the party and government apparatus. Under Husák, composition of the Secretariat, like that of the Presidium, remained rather constant. Many secretaries were also members of the Presidium.

The Central Supervisory and Auditing Commission played a dual role, overseeing party discipline and supervising party finances, but it did not control anything. As an organ for enforcement of party standards, Central Supervisory and Auditing Commission frequently wielded its power to suspend or expel "deviant" party members. It was this commission that directed the massive purges in party membership during the early and late 1970s. Members were elected at each party congress (45 members in 1986). These members then elected from among themselves a chairman, deputy chairmen, and a small presidium. Sub-units of the commission existed at the republic, regional and district levels of the party structure.

Other KSČ commissions in 1987 included People's Supervisory Commission, Agriculture and Food Commission, Economic Commission, Ideological Commission, and Youth Commission.

In 1987 the party also had 18 departments (agitation and propaganda; agriculture, food industry, forestry and water management; Comecon cooperation; culture; economic administration; economics; education and science; elected state organs; external economic relations; fuels and energy; industry; transport and communications; international affairs; mass media; political organisation; science and technology; social organisations and national committees; state administration; and a general department). In most instances the party departments paralleled agencies and ministries of the government and supervised their activities to ensure conformity with KSČ norms and programmes.

Also under CC supervision were two party training centres: the Advanced School of Politics and the Institute of Marxism–Leninism (see below).

Republic level

Down on republic level party structure deviated from the government organisation in that a separate communist party unit existed in the Slovak Socialist Republic (see Communist Party of Slovakia) but not in the Czech Socialist Republic. KSS emerged from World War II as a party distinct from KSČ, but the two were united after the communist takeover in 1948. The reformer movement of the 1960s advocated a return to a system of autonomous parties for the two republics. Bureau for the Conduct of Party Work in the Czech Lands was created as a counterpart to KSS, but it was suppressed after the 1968 invasion and by 1971 had been stricken from party records.

Regional level

KSČ had ten regional subdivisions[ when? ] (seven in the Czech lands, three in Slovakia) identical to kraje, the ten major governmental administrative divisions. In addition, however, the Prague and Bratislava municipal party organs, because of their size, were given regional status within KSČ. Regional conferences selected regional committees, which in turn selected a leading secretary, a number of secretaries and a regional Supervisory and Auditing Commission.

Regional units were broken down into a total of 114 district-level (Czech: okresní) organisations. District conferences were held simultaneously every two to three years, at which time each conference selected a district committee that subsequently selected a secretariat to be headed by a district secretary.

Local level

At local level, KSČ was structured according to what it called "territorial and production principle"; basic party units were organised in work sites and residences where there are at least five KSČ members. In enterprises or communities where party membership was more numerous, smaller units functioned under larger city, village or factorywide committees. Highest authority of the local organisation was, theoretically, the monthly membership meeting, attendance at which was a basic duty of every member. Each group selected its own leadership, consisting of a chairman and one or more secretaries. It also named delegates to the conference of the next higher unit, be it at municipal (like in case of larger cities) or district level.

Membership

Since assuming power in 1948, KSČ had one of the largest per capita membership rolls in the communist world (11 percent of the entire population). The membership roll was often alleged by party ideologues to contain a large component of inactive, opportunistic, and "counterrevolutionary" elements. These charges were used on two occasions, between 1948 and 1950 and again from 1969 to 1971, as a pretext to conduct massive purges of the membership. In the first case, during the great Stalinist purges, nearly 1 million members were removed; in the wake of the Prague Spring and subsequent invasion, about half that number either resigned or were purged from KSČ.

Purges following the 1968 invasion hit especially the Czechs, the youth and the blue-collar workers, as well as the intelligentsia within the party membership. By the end of 1970, KSČ had lost approx. 27.8% of its members compared to January 1968 figures as a result of forced removal or voluntary resignation. [22] Despite this attrition, a membership of "almost 1,200,000" was claimed in the spring of 1971 for a country with an estimated population of approx. 14.5 million — still one of the highest Communist party membership rates in the world on a percentage basis at that time. [22] Owing to this membership decline, accelerated recruitment efforts were targeted at youth and factory workers for the rest of the 1970s.

The party's membership efforts in the 1980s focused on recruiting politically and professionally qualified people willing to exercise greater activism in implementing the party's program. Party leaders at the 17th Party Congress (1986) urged recruitment of more workers, young people, and women. In 1981 it had 1,538,179 members (10% of the population) [23]

KSČ membership was contingent upon completion of a one-year period as a candidate member. Candidate members could not vote or be elected to party committees. In addition to candidates for party membership, there were also candidates for party leadership groups from the local levels to the Presidium. These candidates, already party members, were considered interns training for the future assumption of particular leadership responsibilities.

Training of members

Indoctrination and training of party members was one of the basic responsibilities of regional and district organizations, and party training was mostly conducted on these levels. Regional and district units worked with local party organizations in setting up training programs and determining which members would be enrolled in particular courses of study. On the whole, the system of party schooling changed little since it was established in 1949. A district or city organization provided weekly classes in the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, history of communism, socialist economics, and current party position on domestic and international affairs.

Members training for positions as party functionaries attended seminars at schools for Marxism–Leninism set up in local areas or at more advanced institutes for Marxism–Leninism found in Prague, Brno and Bratislava. The highest level of party training was offered at the Advanced School of Politics in Prague. Designed to train the top echelon of party leadership, the three-year curriculum had the official status of a university program and was said to be one of the best programs in political science in Eastern Europe. These institutions were under the direction of KSČ Central Committee.

Membership demographics

Because of KSČ's mandate to be a workers' party, questions about social background of party members took on a particular salience. KSČ was often reticent with precise details about its members, and the question of how many in the party actually belonged to the revolutionary proletariat proper became a delicate one. Official statements appeared to overstate the percentage of workers within the party's ranks. Nonetheless, a number of trends were clear. The proportion of workers in KSČ was at its highest (approximately 60% of total membership) after World War II but before the party took power in 1948. After that time, percentage of workers fell steadily to a low of an estimated one-quarter of the membership in 1970.

In the early 1970s, government media decried the "grave imbalance," noting that "[the] present class and social structure of party membership is not in conformity with the party's role as a vanguard for the working class." In highly industrialized central Bohemia, for example, only 1 in every 35 workers was party member, while 1 in every 5 administrators was. In 1976, after intensive efforts to recruit workers, number of workers rose to one-third of the KSČ membership, i.e., approx. its 1962 level. In the 1980s, driven by a need for "intensive" economic development, the party relaxed its rigid rule about young workers' priority in admissions and allowed district and regional committees to be flexible in their recruitment policy, as long as the overall proportion of workers did not decrease.

Average age of party members showed a comparable trend. In the late 1960s, fewer than 30% of party members were under 35 years of age, nearly 20% were over 60, and roughly half were 45 or older. The quip in 1971, a half-century after the party's founding in Czechoslovakia, was "After fifty years, a party of fifty-year-olds." There was a determined effort to attract younger members to the party in the middle to late 1970s; one strategy was to recruit children of parents who were KSČ members. The party sent letters to the youngsters' schools and their parents' employers, encouraging the children to join. By early 1980 approximately one-third of KSČ members were 35 years of age or younger. In 1983, average age of the "leading cadre" was still estimated at 50.

Lack of party loyalty in the 1970s and 1980s

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, government media denounced party members' lack of devotion to the pursuit of KSČ policies and goals. Complaints ranged from members' refusal to display flags from their apartment windows on festive occasions to their failure to show up for party work brigades, attend meetings, or pay dues; a significant minority of members tended to underreport their incomes (the basis for assessing dues). In 1970, after a purge of approximately one-third of the membership, an average of less than half the remaining members attended meetings. Perhaps one-third of members were consistently recalcitrant in participating in KSČ activities. In 1983, one primary party branch in the Prague-West district was so unmoved by admonishments that it had to be disbanded and its members dispersed among other organizations. In part, this was a measure of disaffection with Czechoslovakia's thoroughgoing subservience to Soviet hegemony, a Švejkian response to the lack of political and economic autonomy. It was also a reflection of the purge's targets. Those expelled were often the ideologically motivated, the ones for whom developing socialism with a human face represented a significant goal; those who were simply opportunistic survived the purges more easily.

Election results

Czechoslovakia wide elections

Legislative elections

DateLeaderVotesSeatsPosition
# %#±Size
1925 Josef Haken 913,71112.86
41 / 300
Increase2.svg 412ndOpposition
1929 Klement Gottwald 753,22010.2
30 / 300
Decrease2.svg 114thOpposition
1935 Klement Gottwald849,49510.3
30 / 300
Steady2.svg 04thOpposition
1946 Klement Gottwald2,205,69731.2
93 / 300
Increase2.svg 631stCoalition
1948 Klement Gottwaldas part of National Front
160 / 300
Increase2.svg 671stMajority
1954 Antonín Novotný
262 / 368
Increase2.svg 1021stMajority
1960 Antonín Novotný
216 / 300
Decrease2.svg 461stMajority
1964 Antonín Novotný
217 / 300
Decrease2.svg 11stMajority
1971 Gustáv Husák
152 / 200
Decrease2.svg 651stMajority
1976 Gustáv Husák
143 / 200
Decrease2.svg 91stMajority
1981 Gustáv Husák
147 / 200
Increase2.svg 41stMajority
1986 Gustáv Husák
147 / 200
Steady2.svg 01stMajority
1990 Ladislav Adamec 1,445,40713.6
23 / 150
Decrease2.svg 1242ndOpposition

Devolved assembly elections

Slovak assembly elections

DateLeaderVotesSeatsPosition
# %#±Size
1928 Matej Kršiak 190,59514.42
5 / 54
Increase2.svg 53rdOpposition
1935 Viliam Široký 13.0
5 / 54
Steady2.svg 04thOpposition
1938 Banned. Hlinka's Slovak People's Party sole legal party.
1948 Štefan Bašťovanský as part of National Front
75 / 100
Increase2.svg 751stMajority
1954 Karol Bacílek
47 / 103
Decrease2.svg 281stMajority
1960 Karol Bacílek
34 / 100
Decrease2.svg 131stMajority
1964 Alexander Dubček
58 / 92
Increase2.svg 241stMajority
1971 Jozef Lenárt
102 / 150
Increase2.svg 441stMajority
1976 Jozef Lenárt
102 / 150
Steady2.svg 01stMajority
1981 Jozef Lenárt
102 / 150
Steady2.svg 01stMajority
1986 Jozef Lenárt
103 / 150
Increase2.svg 11stMajority
1990 Peter Weiss 450,85513.35
22 / 150
Decrease2.svg 814thOpposition

Czech assembly elections

DateLeaderVotesSeatsPosition
# %#±Size
1968 Alexander Dubček as part of National Front
89 / 200
Increase2.svg 891stMajority
1971 Gustáv Husák
129 / 200
Increase2.svg 401stMajority
1976 Gustáv Husák
111 / 200
Decrease2.svg 181stMajority
1981 Gustáv Husák
138 / 200
Increase2.svg 271stMajority
1986 Gustáv Husák
137 / 200
Decrease2.svg 11stMajority
1990 Jiří Machalík 954,69013.24
33 / 200
Decrease2.svg 1042ndOpposition

Party leaders

Title*In office
Václav ŠturcGeneral Secretary1921–22
Alois Muna Muna, Alois.jpg General Secretary1922–24
Josef Haken Josef Haken.jpg General Secretary1924–25
Bohumil Jílek Bohumil Jilek (1892-1963).jpg General Secretary1925 – 1929
Klement Gottwald Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R90009, Budapest, II. Weltfestspiele, Festumzug, tschechische Delegation (cropped KG).jpg General Secretary /

Chairman

1929 – 14 March 1953

as General Secretary 1929–1945
as Chairman 1945–1953

Antonín Novotny Antonin Novotny 1968.jpg First Secretary14 March 1953 – 5 January 1968
Alexander Dubček Dubcek 1991 2.jpg First Secretary5 January 1968 – 17 April 1969
Gustáv Husák Gustav Husak - oriznuto.JPG First Secretary /

General Secretary

17 April 1969 – 17 December 1987

as First Secretary 1969–1971
as General Secretary 1971–1987

Miloš Jakeš M Jakes Praha 2014.JPG General Secretary17 December 1987 – 24 November 1989
Karel Urbánek General Secretary24 November 1989 – 20 December 1989
Ladislav Adamec Chairman21 December 1989 – 1 September 1990

* Official designations of leaders of the KSČ: 1921–1945 General Secretary (Czech : generální tajemník; Slovak : generálny tajomník); 1945–53 Chairman (Czech : předseda; Slovak : predseda); 1953–1971 First Secretary (Czech : první tajemník;Slovak : prvý tajomník); 1971–1989: General Secretary; 1989–1990 Chairman.

See also

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Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia Czech political party

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia is a communist party in the Czech Republic. As of 2021, KSČM has a membership of 28,715, and is a member party of The Left in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL in the European Parliament, and an observer member of the European Left Party. Sources variously describe the party as either left wing or far left on the political spectrum. It is one of the few former ruling parties in post-Communist Central Eastern Europe to have not dropped the Communist title from its name, although it has changed its party program to adhere to laws adopted after 1989.

From the Communist coup d'état in February 1948 to the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Czechoslovakia was ruled by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The country belonged to the Eastern Bloc and was a member of the Warsaw Pact and of Comecon. During the era of Communist Party rule, thousands of Czechoslovaks faced political persecution for various offences, such as trying to emigrate across the Iron Curtain.

The History of Czechoslovakia from 1989–1992 is the period in Czechoslovak history that began with the Velvet Revolution from November 17–27, 1989 that overthrew the communist government, and ended with the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia on January 1, 1993.

In the history of Czechoslovakia, normalization is a name commonly given to the period following the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and up to the glasnost era of liberalization that began in the Soviet Union and its neighboring nations in 1987. It was characterized by the restoration of the conditions prevailing before the Prague Spring reform period led by First Secretary Alexander Dubček of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) earlier in 1968 and the subsequent preservation of the new status quo. Some historians date the period from the signing of the Moscow Protocol by Dubček and the other jailed Czechoslovak leaders on August 26, 1968, while others date it from the replacement of Dubček by Gustáv Husák on April 17, 1969, followed by the official normalization policies referred to as Husakism. The policy ended either with Husák's removal as leader of the Party on December 17, 1987, or with the beginning of the Velvet Revolution on November 17, 1989, which would see the resignation of the entire Communist Party leadership within a week and an end to Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

National Front (Czechoslovakia) Political party in Czechoslovakia

The National Front was the coalition of parties which headed the re-established Czechoslovakia from 1945 to 1948. During the Communist era in Czechoslovakia (1948–1989) it was the vehicle for control of all political and social activity by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). It was also known in English as the National Front of Czechs and Slovaks.

Although political control of Communist Czechoslovakia was largely monopolized by the authoritarian Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), the party technically shared political power with other parties of the National Front. The leader of the KSČ was de facto the most powerful person in the country during this period. Czechoslovakia's foreign policy was openly influenced by the foreign policy of the Soviet Union.

With the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy at the end of World War I, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed as a result of the critical intervention of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, among others.

Gustáv Husák Czechoslovak politician, 9th President of Czechoslovakia (1913–1991)

Gustáv Husák was a Czechoslovak communist politician of a Slovak origin, who served as the long-time First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia from 1969 to 1987 and the president of Czechoslovakia from 1975 to 1989. His rule is known as the period of the Normalization after the Prague Spring.

Socialism with a human face Slogan for Alexander Dubceks democratization policies in Communist Czechoslovakia

Socialism with a human face is a slogan referring to the reformist and democratic socialist programme of Alexander Dubček and his colleagues, agreed at the Presidium of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in April 1968, after he became chairman of the KSČ in January 1968. The first author of this slogan was Radovan Richta, and it was a process of moderate democratization, economic modernization, and political liberalization that sought to build an advanced and modern socialist society that valued democratic Czechoslovakian tradition, while still allowing the Communist Party to continue governing. Socialism with a human face was a key force in initiating the Prague Spring, a period of national democratization and economic decentralization, which was however rolled back by the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968.

Jozef Lenárt

Jozef Lenárt was a Slovak politician who was the prime minister of Czechoslovakia from 1963 to 1968.

Czechoslovak Socialist Republic Republic in Central Europe between 1960 and 1990

The Czechoslovak Republic or Fourth Czechoslovak Republic existed between 1948 and 1960 in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was the official name of the country from 1960 to 23 April 1990. From 1948 until the end of November 1989, the country was under Communist rule and was a satellite state of the Soviet Union.

Vasiľ Biľak

RSDr. Vasiľ Biľak was a Slovak Communist politician and leader of Rusyn origin.

Communist Party of Slovakia (1939) Political party in Slovakia

The Communist Party of Slovakia was a communist party in Slovakia. It was formed in May 1939, when the Slovak Republic was created, as the Slovak branches of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) were separated from the mother party. When Czechoslovakia was again established as a unified state, the KSS was still a separate party for a while (1945–1948). On 29 September 1948, it was reunited with the KSČ and continued to exist as an "organizational territorial unit of the KSČ on the territory of Slovakia". Its main organ was Pravda.

Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia August 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia

On 20–21 August 1968, Czechoslovakia was jointly invaded by four Warsaw Pact countries: the Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary. About 250,000 Warsaw Pact troops, supported by thousands of tanks and hundreds of aircraft, participated in the overnight operation, which was code-named Operation Danube. Romania and Albania refused to participate, while East German forces, except for a small number of specialists, were ordered by Moscow not to cross the Czechoslovak border just hours before the invasion. 137 Czechoslovak civilians were killed and 500 seriously wounded during the occupation.

Josef Smrkovský

Josef Smrkovský was a Czechoslovak politician and a member of the Communist Party reform wing during the 1968 Prague Spring.

The Union of Communists of Slovakia was a communist party in Slovakia in 1991–1992. Juraj Janošovský was the party chairman.

Čestmír Císař

Čestmír Císař was a Czech and Czechoslovak politician and diplomat. He served as the first Chairman of the Czech National Council from 1968 to 1969 when the Czech Republic was part of Czechoslovakia during the Communist era. A leading advocate for reforms of the Communist Party, Císař introduced a series of liberal reforms to Communist Czechoslovakia, becoming a major figure in the Prague Spring as a result. He sought to create a new form of socialism with a "human face." His reforms were repealed following the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. He was removed from office and expelled from the Communist Party until the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

References

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Further reading