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This article is about the Civic Forum of the Czech Republic. See also the Guinean Civic Forum-Social Democracy of Guinea-Bissau and the Civic Forum for Northern Ireland.
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Civic Forum (Czech: Občanské fórum - OF) was a political movement in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia set up during the Velvet Revolution in 1989. In Slovakia the corresponding movement was called Public Against Violence (Slovak: Verejnosť proti násiliu - VPN).

Civic Forum's purpose was to unify all anti-authoritarian forces in Czechoslovakia and to overthrow the communist regime. They succeeded and Václav Havel, its leader and founder, was elected president on December 29, 1989. It didn't have a clear political strategy much beyond the June 1990 elections. However, in March and April 1990 Civic Forum did campaign successfully and they managed to get more than 80 percent of the votes in the first free elections in Czechoslovakia since 1946.

Civic Forum had a very loose structure and most of its (self-appointed) leaders came from Prague members of Charter 77. Jan Urban became chairman in December 1989 after Havel was elected president. Urban served until June 1990. He resigned his post, saying he did not want a rift between the organization and the president. Václav Klaus, on his way to obtain more political power, was elected its new chairman on October 16, 1990. The policies of Klaus were opposed by other leaders and party unity soon vanished.

At the Civic Forum congress in January 1991 Klaus's supporters stated that they would form an independent party with a clearer program, advocating a free market, called Občanská demokratická strana (Civic Democratic Party). The party elected him as its chairman in February 1991. Klaus then stated that ODS and Civic Movement (Občanské hnutí), the party formed by the remainder of Civic Forum members and led by federal minister of foreign affairs Jiři Dienstbier, would rule as a coalition until the 1992 elections. However, by July 1991 Klaus said that the cooperation was over. Civic Democratic Party was victorious in the elections of 1992 while Civic Movement failed to reach the 5% threshold and eventually disappeared.

References

  • Timothy Garton Ash, We the people: the revolution of ’89, witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague (Cambridge 1990).
  • Bernard Wheaton and Zdeněk Kavan, The Velvet Revolution: Czechoslovakia, 1988-1991 (Boulder 1992).
  • Paal Sigurd Hilde, "Slovak Nationalism and the Break-Up of Czechoslovakia." Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Jun., 1999): 647-665.
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