Freedom & Democracy Day – Part 2

Travel Tips — By Jacy Meyer on November 16, 2010 at 4:40 am

November 17 is Freedom & Democracy Day in the Czech Republic. this is the second in a 2-part series on the history of the Velvet Revolution.

Despite the fact that their neighbouring Communist countries had been seeing unrest and protests for some time, the Czechoslovak government was totally unprepared for the up swell of public support for the students’ cause. As mass demonstrations continued and more and more people supported the general strikes that were being called, an extraordinary session of the Czechoslovak Communist Party was called. The Presidium resigned, and a relatively unknown member, Karel Urbanek was elected the new Communist Party leader. This didn’t sit well with the general public who didn’t see the change as true reform but merely a placation.

November 25 and 26 saw a massive demonstration of 750,000 people atLetna Park in Prague followed by the general strike on November 27. These two acts were devastating to the Communist regime. Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec held talks with Václav Havel who submitted a list of Civic Forum demands. At their second meeting, Adamec agreed to form a new coalition government. In addition the Constitution was to be amended through the deleting of three articles: guarantee of a leading role in political life for the Czechoslovak Communist Party and for the National Front, and the directive of a Marxist-Leninist education. These changes were unanimously approved by the Communist parliament on November 29.

These initial allowances led to an increase in demands by the people. A new government was formed by Marian Calfa which included only nine members of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, several of whom had cooperated with the Civic Forum. The rest of the government was made up of two members from the Czechoslovak Socialist Party; two from the Czechoslovak People’s Party and seven ministers  with no previous party affiliation, all of whom were either members of the Civic Forum or Public Against Violence. President Husak named this new government on December 10 and later that day went on television to announce his resignation.

Political events moved swiftly; the parliament elected Václav Havel president on December 11 and he was elected by the people in July 1990.

Tomorrow we bring you important Velvet Revolution places in Prague.

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia

Tags: history, holiday