Government and Politics
Czechoslovak coat of arms
IN 1987 CZECHOSLOVAKIA completed its eighteenth year under the
leadership of Gustav Husak. Placed in power by the Soviets eight
months after the August 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of
Czechoslovakia, the Husak regime moved quickly to undo the
policies of the previous government, led by Alexander Dubcek, and
to eliminate what remained of the reform movement known as the
Prague Spring. Within two years, Husak's policies of
"normalization" succeeded in restoring centralized party control
in Czechoslovakia and reestablishing Czechoslovakia's status as a
loyal Soviet ally prepared to follow Moscow's directives in both
international and domestic affairs.
The normalization process begun after the 1968 invasion set
the stage for the emergence in the 1970s of an extremely orthodox
political environment. Normalization extended to almost every
aspect of Czechoslovak life. Politically, above all else, it
meant the reinforcement of the absolute monopoly of power held by
the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. In the economy, it meant
the entrenchment of a command economy that left virtually no room
for market forces. In the social sphere, it meant party control
of all associational groupings, education, and the printed word.
Finally, in the area of national security, it meant increased
police powers and the near subordination of the Czechoslovak
People's Army to the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact.
Czechoslovakia's political orthodoxy continued in the 1980s.
Despite rampant bureaucratization, poor economic performance,
inefficient administration, and widespread popular apathy, the
Husak government introduced no significant changes in
organization, personnel, or policies from the early 1970s through
the mid-1980s. Only in early 1987, undoubtedly in response to
pressure from the new leadership in Moscow, did the Husak
government announce that Czechoslovakia was preparing to
introduce Soviet-style reforms aimed at improving
Czechoslovakia's faltering economy.
Data as of August 1987