Czech voters ousted communists from parliament on Saturday for the first time since the end of World War II, voting for a party whose ancestors ruled the central European nation from 1948 until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which revolutionized democracy. Started it.
In the 1950s, communists imprisoned thousands in forced labor camps and brutally repressed dissidents such as playwright-turned-president Vaclav Havel, but remained in parliament after the revolution.
In this week’s election, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia received 3.62% of the vote, with almost all regions reporting less than the 5% needed to enter parliament and potentially a final chapter for a party. marked which has gradually shrunk as its aging membership. decreased.”
It pleases me, it pleases me very much,” Jiri Gruntorad, 69, a former dissident who signed the dissident Charter 77 statement and was jailed for sabotage by Communist authorities from 1981 to 1985, told Reuters.
“But it’s too late.”
“It was one of the last communist parties in the world other than the Chinese and Cuba to bear its name. Others have at least changed their names and started behaving a little differently.”
Voters also lost the ANO party of Prime Minister Lady Babis against the centre-right opposition group Together in a surprise result.
After 1989, communists sought to appeal to senior citizens and working-class Czechs, but they never resonated with younger voters and failed to shake the party’s history as a totalitarian ruler with others who fought for independence. had strangled.
Communist Party leader Wojtek Philippe also resigned, saying “I am very disappointed because this is really a huge failure.”
Havel opposed the ban on the party – which opposed the country’s EU and NATO membership and maintained warm relations with Russia and China – despite calls from the public to do so.
The Communists mostly remained in isolation after 1989, although they collaborated with other parties seeking votes to pass legislation in parliament. He was also close to current President Milos Zeman.
The party gained influence in 2018 when Babis, a former Communist Party member, leaned on him to support his minority government with the Social Democrats.
The party was closest to coming to power since 1989, but also appears to represent its final act as a political force in the former Soviet-bloc nation.
“I am glad that this era is now over – not only for those of us who are still alive, but also for those who have passed away and who were persecuted by the regime,” said 74-year-old Hana Palkova. secret police.