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Czechoslovakia Table of Contents


The Policy of Normalization

Once in power, the Husak regime acted quickly to "normalize" the country's political situation. The chief objectives of Husak's normalization were the restoration of firm party rule and the reestablishment of Czechoslovakia's status as a committed member of the socialist bloc. The normalization process involved five interrelated steps: consolidate the Husak leadership and remove reformers from leadership positions; revoke or modify the laws enacted by the reform movement; reestablish centralized control over the economy; reinstate the power of police authorities; and expand Czechoslovakia's ties with other socialist nations.

Within a week of assuming power, Husak began to consolidate his leadership by ordering extensive purges of reformists still occupying key positions in the mass media, judiciary, social and mass organizations, lower party organs, and, finally, the highest levels of the KSC. In the fall of 1969, twenty-nine liberals on the Central Committee were replaced by conservatives. Among the liberals ousted was Dubcek, who was dropped from the Presidium (the following year Dubcek was expelled from the party; he subsequently became a minor functionary in Slovakia, where he still lived in 1987). Husak also consolidated his leadership by appointing potential rivals to the new government positions created as a result of the 1968 Constitutional Law of Federation.

Once it had consolidated power, the Husak regime moved quickly to implement other normalization policies. In the two years following the invasion, the new leadership revoked some reformist laws (such as the National Front Act and the Press Act) and simply did not enforce others. It returned economic enterprises, which had been given substantial independence during the Prague Spring, to centralized control through contracts based on central planning and production quotas. It reinstated extreme police control, a step that was reflected in the harsh treatment of demonstrators marking the first-year anniversary of the August intervention. Finally, Husak stabilized Czechoslovakia's relations with its allies by arranging frequent intrabloc exchanges and visits and redirecting Czechoslovakia's foreign economic ties toward greater involvement with socialist nations. By May 1971, party chief Husak could report to the delegates attending the officially sanctioned Fourteenth Party Congress that the process of normalization had been completed satisfactorily and that Czechoslovakia was ready to proceed toward higher forms of socialism (see National Organization , this ch.).

Data as of August 1987