Country Listing

Czechoslovakia Table of Contents



Elections in Czechoslovakia are held not to offer the electorate an opportunity to participate in a democratic choice of their government representatives but to confirm the representatives chosen by the KSC hierarchy. The July 1971 electoral law lengthened the time between elections from four to five years (1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, and so forth) and designated that they take place in the fall, so that each election comes shortly after the party congress in the spring. The 1971 law replaced a 1967 electoral law that allowed the electorate to participate in the choice of candidates; the 1967 law was never applied because the 1968 elections were postponed by the August invasion. The November 1971 elections, then, were the first to be held since 1964. These, like every election, proposed single slates of candidates for the Federal Assembly, the two national councils, and the regional, district, and municipal national committees. The voter may cross out (disapprove) or not cross out (approve) the name of any or all official candidates nominated by the National Front. Polling booths are rarely used, and voting is often carried out collectively by the work force of each enterprise or by other groups of the population.

The 1971 elections were preceded by a concerted effort by a group of dissidents calling themselves the Socialist Movement of Czechoslovak Citizens to urge citizens to boycott the elections or cross off official names in protest of the undemocratic character of the 1971 election law. Official election results, nevertheless, showed that 99.5 percent of the 10.3 million eligible voters did cast ballots, and of these, some 99.8 percent voted for the official candidates. Following the election, rumors circulated that, in fact, up to 10 percent of the population had not voted and that between 10 and 25 percent of the voters had crossed out official names. Whatever the case, after the election some 200 persons associated with the Socialist Movement of Czechoslovak Citizens were arrested. Trials were held during July and August 1972, at which 47 persons were sentenced to a total of 118 years in prison.

In elections held in May 1986, Czechoslovak officials reported that 99.4 percent of registered voters participated in the Federal Assembly elections, and 99.9 percent of the total vote cast went to National Front candidates. Similar results were reported in the elections for the Czech National Council and the Slovak National Council and in the lower-level national committees.

Data as of August 1987