Velvet Revolution

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A term used to describe the relatively peaceful transfer of power in Czechoslovakia from the Communist Party to the civil rights movement, which the state had unsuccessfully tried to fight for over a decade. The collapse of Communism in Poland and Hungary, and the growing popular protests in Eastern Germany, triggered demonstrations against the Czechoslovak regime in Prague and Brno from August to October 1989. Initially, these were repressed, but the state security forces became powerless against the ever‐growing number of demonstrators. Leading human rights activists from Charter '77 created the Civic Forum on 18 November 1989, in order to coordinate and organize the opposition, and to engage in negotiations with the government. It called a general strike on 27 November, which showed that the old government completely lacked any popular basis. The Communist government collapsed, with the party's political monopoly being withdrawn on 29 November. On 10 December a new government consisting mostly of non‐Communists was formed. Subsequently, the two most consistent and respected critics of the Communist regime of the previous two decades were elevated into office: on 28 December Dubček was elected Speaker of parliament, and on 29 December Havel succeeded Husák as President. The Velvet Revolution was complete, and was confirmed by the free elections of 8– 9 June 1990, in which the Revolution's leaders were endorsed.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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