The Czechoslovak Communist Party's revolution, 1986-1990

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2014
Thesis identifier
  • T13795
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • This thesis argues that the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSČ) and its policies precipitated the course of Czechoslovakia's 1989 revolution. It draws upon both opposition and Communist Party documents across twenty-five state, regional and local archives in the Czech and Slovak republics, as well as secret police reports, interview testimony, audiovisual materials and newspaper reports to offer a comprehensive reappraisal of both Czechoslovakia's 1989 revolution, and the last few years of Communist rule which preceded it.This thesis analyses the responses of grassroots, district and regional Communist Party committees to the KSČ leadership's own version of perestroika, known as'přestavba' (restructuring), between 1986 and 1989. In contrast to Michal Pullmann's (2011) work, which focussed only on the Party 'elite', the contention presented here is that the KSČ leadership used přestavba to put more responsibility onto local officials,whilst simultaneously preventing reform of the top Party structures. Local Party minutes show how this led to increased resentment and distrust among the Party membership,which affected the extent to which přestavba's policies were implemented. The instability which přestavba caused also manifested itself in the official Socialist Youth Union (SSM). Newspaper reports, interviews and Party minutes show how přestavba caused tensions within the SSM membership as it tried to remain both relevant and representative of young people, and at the same time maintain its loyalties to the KSČ.Secret police and local opposition reports show that, after 17 November 1989, the SSM not only opposed the KSČ's reaction to the emerging political crisis, but that in doing so spread news of the revolution and encouraged strike action. The KSČ's own responses during the revolution, never subject to any serious historical analysis, are also offered here. Mirroring the approach taken by James Krapfl (2009), who studied Czechoslovakia's revolution from the perspective of the 'winners' and drew extensively on local and regional opposition documents, this thesis looks at the losing side by drawing on equivalent regional and local Communist Party sources. The tensions přestavba caused affected the Party's ability to handle the demands made on it during November and December 1989. And having been encouraged to find their ownsolutions to the crisis, local functionaries and the Party grassroots decided instead to reject both the Party leadership and přestavba itself.
Resource Type
  • This thesis was previously held under moratorium from 28th August 2014 until 28th August 2016.
Date Created
  • 2014
Former identifier
  • 9910369153402996