When Patrik Dubovský, the archivist in the Nation’s Memory Institute (ÚPN), was an 18-year-old student, he almost overslept on his first parliamentary elections. But the election commission reminded him of the duty of a socialist country’s citizen.
“I was 18-years-old, they woke me up by phone around midday and told me that I had not voted yet so I should come,” Dubovský told The Slovak Spectator.
As a student, he did not care about the politics of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic led by Communists. Politicians in that time did not run a standard pre-election campaign so he did not even know there were any elections. At the polling station the people on the election commission told him that he should do nothing more than just throw the ballot into the box and so he did it. He had no idea who he was voting for.
Although elections during the socialism regime were imitating the free choice of candidates, they were in fact a farce. The winner was anyone who was on the ballot, as the number of candidates was the same as the number of elected functions.
“Everything was predetermined then, the elections looked completely different than those after November 1989,” Dubovský said.
People had been voting in this way since 1948, when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia seized complete power over the country. The situation changed after the Velvet Revolution, starting on November 17, 1989, when people ended communist rule in a non-violent manner.
Before the revolution around 99 percent of people participated in elections in which winners were known sooner than the balloting rooms opened their doors. After the revolution the free elections attracted a decreasing amount of people and only around 70 to 60 percent of people participated in them.
16. Nov 2017 at 18:57 | Roman Cuprik