Primary Sources

Teleprint, "Summary of the Demands Made by Opposition Groups Represented by the Civic Forum,"

Description

Several of the previous documents (for example doc. 492, 508 and 510) have dealt with the Czechoslovak Communist Party's attempts to control public opinion in the early days of the Velvet Revolution. The party's strategy for the first week or so consisted of isolating the opposition and using ideological arguments to convince the general public of the harmful consequences of the protesters' demands. However, the party's internal analysis of current trends in public opinion described in this teleprint presented some sobering conclusions. The report frankly stated that the party was losing ground even in communist strongholds. Opinion polls showed increasing agreement with opposition demands in both the communist rank-and-file and the working class, especially for leadership change and negotiations with the opposition. The authors argued that these trends resulted from the party's ineffectual response to recent events, and that the communists must now adapt their position to fit the public will.

Source

Central Committee, Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, "Summary of the Demands Made by Opposition Groups Represented by the Civic Forum," teleprint, November 23, 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...

We are providing a summary of the most frequent demands of the opposition groups represented by the Civic Forum....

A. The Legal System

An unequivocal demand is the full realization of human and civic rights and freedoms in the spirit of the accepted international agreements and commitments, especially the modification of the legal regulations ...

B. The Political System

... the reevaluation of the crisis years 1968/1969 ...

... the legalization of independent periodicals, the creation of objective information networks, to enable plurality of opinion in education ... the launching of broadcasts of radio and television programs for believers).

... [the resignation of] all so-called compromised functionaries of normalization, the removal of Soviet army units in the CSSR ... the removal of paramilitary and police elements from civilian life, the abolition of the People’s Militia, an end to political and cadre privileges. The extension of the separation between church and state ... the independence of unions from the state and the employers ...

Further, changes in the Czechoslovak Constitution, especially the retraction of Article 4, which establishes the leading role of the CPCz ...

...

C. The Economy

They demand radical reform of economic aid ... full renewal of private enterprise in the sphere of trade, craft, small and medium businesses, parts of agriculture and culture....

...

The research done by the Institute for Public Opinion Research at the Federal Statistical Office in May 1989, shows that a group of the people who were asked, endorsed the following demands of opposition groups represented by the Civic Forum. The demands in question are:

removal of the leading role of the CPCz - 32% were in favor;

change in the way the leading role of the CPCz is implemented - 49% were in favor;

pluralization of the union movement - 35% were in favor;

cadre changes in the leadership - 77% were in favor;

changes in the laws limiting freedom of expression, assembly and information - 59% were in favor;

changes in the system of elections - 60% were in favor;

changes in the evaluation of the year 1968 - 59% were in favor;

reprivatization of the means of production - 32% were in favor.

In the research conducted from 22-24 November 1989, 88% (and 93% in Prague) were in favor of cadre changes in the leadership, and 81% (and 88% in Prague) were in favor of official negotiations with the opposition (meaning its legalization).

From the information of the CC CPCz from 26 November 1989, at 12:00 p.m., it is noticeable that the series of demands found among party members is identical to the demands of the opposition.

Conclusion

In public opinion, but also among CPCz members, there is a noticeable growth of negative tendencies and an inclination toward the demands of the opposition. The situation reveals that in the last few days a significant weakening of the role and prestige of the CPCz in society has occurred as a result of the belated reaction to the developments and the ineffectively accepted decision.

The opposition took the initiative because of the developments in the party.... It is clear that the Party will have to be a partner both in the National Front as well as in its relations to the opposition (Civic Forum). Should the corresponding measures and clearly formulated party lines fail to be adopted, there is danger that the party may disintegrate and will have diminished hopes of gaining a significant portion of the vote in the next elections.

...

How to Cite this Source

Central Committee, Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, "Teleprint, "Summary of the Demands Made by Opposition Groups Represented by the Civic Forum,"," Making the History of 1989, Item #511, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/511 (accessed December 22 2014, 12:03 pm).

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