What Was the Velvet Revolution

This was one of the major events that took place in Czechoslovakia. It came about as a way of overthrowing the then communist government that had been in power for slightly over 40 years. To this day, this event is commemorated alongside marches, protests and demonstrations held in nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Circumstances leading to the actual Velvet Revolution are still not clear as, according to history, there were a series of national protests that happened spontaneously but with probabilities that they were allowed by the then Communist government.

17th November, 1989 is the actual date when the Velvet revolution was sparked. It started in the city of Prague, when riot police advanced towards students who were holding a peaceful demonstration. By disrupting this demonstration, the police sparked other demonstrations and riots all over the country. Coincidentally, some of the countries in the Eastern Bloc had had enough of the Communist government and the uprisings, riots and demonstrated spread into those territories. These countries had already been experiencing political instability. What happened in Prague was like a spark in a room full of explosive fumes. The communist’s governments began giving in one by one. One of the most prominent evidences of the Velvet Revolution is the coming down of the Berlin Wall in Germany. This happened 2 days later, after the initial riots began in Prague.

These demonstrations were totally unexpected as it caught the Communist government totally unaware. Workers and students went on strike all over the country. They would regularly have meetings with members of the Communist government to try and come to an agreement so that both parties would be satisfied. Seven days after the initial demonstration, there was a major change that happened in the government: the Communist Party’s Secretary General was replaced. However, the workers and students still maintained their stand. What they wanted was a total overhaul of the government. They kept on with their demonstrations.

When the government saw this, the Parliament began to change and review the frameworks of political administration that were in favour with the Communist Party. Major dismantling was done to the structures put in place. This led to the resignation of the president and the appointment of a new cabinet. This was done in a bid to welcome democratic elections which were held in January of 1990. The Velvet Revolution was had quite evidently achieved its purpose of changing government without any bloodshed. 3 years later, after the democratic elections, the country split into 2 nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Within Slovakia, the Velvet Revolution is referred to as the Gentle revolution. This is because of the peaceful transition from the Communist government to the democratic one.

 

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