International Students’ Day 17th November

Velvet revolution

The Velvet Revolution – What was it?

17th November 1989 is also known as the Velvet Revolution (or Sametová revoluce in Czech). This important event was a non-violent transition of power in Czechoslovakia. The demonstrations against the single-party government of the Communist Party were dominated by students and also by established dissidents (Václav Havel, Jiří Diensbier and others). The result of the event was the end of forty-one years of Communist party of Czechoslovakia and the subsequent transition to a parliamentary republic.

Immediate effect

In this day the police suppressed the student demonstration in Prague. There were the series of demonstrations from 19th November to late December. By November 20 the number of protesters increased to 500,000. The leaders of the Communist Party (General Secretary Miloš Jakeš etc.) resigned. There was a two-hour general strike on 27th November.


The collapse of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia

Due to this increasing street protests and the collapse of other Warsaw Pact governments the Communist Party announced that they relinquish power and dismantle the single-party state on 28th November. There was deleted the sections of the Constitution giving the Communists a monopoly of power. President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government since 1948 and he resigned on 10th December. Václav Havel became the ninth and last president of Czechoslovakia (1989–1992).

The first democratic elections – Czechoslovakia held their first democratic elections since 1946 in June 1990.

Velvet Revolution – use of the term

This term was coined by Rita Klímová (English translator) who became the new non-Communists regime’s ambassador to the USA. The term is used to describe the revolution internationally. When the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993 took place, Slovakia started to use the term Gentle Revolution (they used the term for the revolution from its beginning).



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