Membership and Training
Since assuming power in 1948, the KSC has had one of the
largest per capita membership rolls in the communist world.
Whereas the Leninist guidelines for an elitist party cadre
dictate that about 5 percent of the population should be party
members, in Czechoslovakia party membership in 1986 comprised
approximately 11 percent of the population. The membership roll
has often been alleged by party ideologues to contain a large
component of inactive, opportunistic, and "counterrevolutionary"
elements. These charges were used on two occasions--between 1948
and 1950 and again between 1969 and 1971--as a pretext to conduct
massive purges of the membership. In the first case, the great
Stalinist purges, nearly 1 million members were removed; in the
wake of the Prague Spring and subsequent invasion, about half
that number either resigned or were purged from the KSC.
Although party leaders did not bemoan the decrease in
membership, they did express concern about the effects of the
purge on the social and age distribution of the party membership.
Although no official statistics were available, unofficial
sources claimed that Czechs constituted as many as 90 percent of
those purged in the wake of the 1968 invasion. The purges hit
especially hard among youth, blue-collar workers, and the
intelligentsia within the party membership. As a result,
recruitment was especially strong among youth and the working
class during the 1970s. lt was reported that 90 percent of those
enrolled between 1971 and 1976 were under thirty-five years of
age and that 62 percent of all new members were classified as
workers. The party's membership efforts in the 1980s focused on
recruiting politically and professionally well-qualified people
willing to exercise greater activism in implementing the party's
program. Party leaders at the Seventeenth Party Congress in 1986
urged the recruitment of more workers, young people, and women.
Membership in the KSC is contingent upon completion of a oneyear period as a candidate member. Candidate members may not vote
or be elected to party committees. In addition to candidates for
party membership, there are also candidates for party leadership
groups from the local levels to the Presidium. These candidates,
already party members, are considered interns training for the
future assumption of particular leadership responsibilities.
The indoctrination and training of party members is one of
the basic responsibilities of the regional and district
organizations, and most of the party training is conducted on
these levels. The regional and district units work with the local
party organizations in setting up training programs and in
determining which members will be enrolled in particular courses
of study. On the whole, the system of party schooling has changed
little since it was established in 1949. The district or city
organization provides weekly classes in the fundamentals of
Marxism-Leninism, the history of communism, socialist economics,
and the current party position on domestic and international
Members training for positions as party functionaries attend
seminars at the schools for Marxism-Leninism set up in local
areas or at the more advanced institutes for Marxism-Leninism
found in Prague, Brno, and Bratislava. The highest level of party
training is offered at the Advanced School of Politics in Prague.
Designed to train the top echelon of the party leadership, the
three-year curriculum has the official status of a university
program and is said to be one of the best programs in political
science in Eastern Europe. These institutions are under the
direction of the KSC Central Committee.
Data as of August 1987