Joey Slavik (jas8567) Assignment 3
The Velvet Revolution was a non-violent revolution moving, what was then known as, Czechoslovakia from a single party communist political structure to a representative democracy. This revolution marked a shift from communism in Czechoslovakia for the first time in more than 40 years, since the beginning of the Soviet Union.
Prior to the revolution several countries surrounding Czechoslovakia had begun dropping authoritarian rule. Though censorship was still relatively strong, Czechoslovakians had access to these news reports, helping fuel desires for political reform. As living conditions and the economy began to fall people became more and more open about speaking against the government. Strong anti-government sentiments were partly inspired by radical theater and literature developing in Prague, Olomouc, and Bratislava, which questioned authoritative governments and promoted humanism.
The events of the Velvet Revolution were sparked by intervention by riot police on peaceful student demonstrations in Wenceslas Square as a tribute for former students on the anniversary of Nazi occupation of Czech universities and schools. The authoritarian action of the police sparked several demonstrations and protests by Czechoslovak citizens. By Nov. 24th 1989, having seen the protests and the dissolution of other WARSAW Pact countries, all leaders of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party had resigned from power, leaving the government scrambling for new leaders. On Nov 27th, 1989 a mass strike was held from 12pm-2pm as a demonstration for the public’s desire for a new government. Reportedly, 75% of the Czechoslovak population participated in the strike, prompting the government to release anti-communist literature, marking an end to government censorship and proving that the people have the ability to disrupt government operations. This in turn led to the resignation of the Communist President G. Husak and the end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia. In late December Vaclav Havel was elected president and again in free elections in 1990. Under the new democratic government a shift was made towards a market oriented economy, promoting de-monopolization and an increase in the private sector of business.