Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Prague Spring 1968

Prague Spring 1968


Cause

  • Czechoslovakia was the last country to fall to communism to finalise the Iron Curtain. It was therefore very much westernised  and many people knew of capitalism. 
  • Bad economic policies which failed in Czechoslovakia such as collectivisation of agriculture were hated among the people.
  • In October 1967 a number of reformers including Dubcek challenged Novotny’s leadership. Dubcek showed Brezhnev (the leader of USSR) the opposition to Novotny. Novotny was then replaced by Svoboda (Dubcek was Svoboda’s party secretary), who supported Dubcek’s reform programme. 

What Happened

  • Dubcek’s Prague Spring Reforms in 1968 were changing communism into a less radical political system. 
  • He wanted to give greater political freedom including freedom of speech and abolition of censorship
  • He also wanted to reduce the power of the secret police and allow trade with the West. 
  • He wanted to give the Czechoslovakian people a greater say in running their country.
  • This led to 'socialism with a human face'

Consequence

  • Since Czechoslovakia was in Eastern Europe, USSR didn't want them to leave the Warsaw Pact, as then their soviet sphere of influence would diminish.
  • Their reforms could spark radical reforms in other satellite states.
  • So Soviet Union were under pressure from other Warsaw Pact leaders to stop the reforms in Czechoslovakia, as it would destabilise the spread of communism.
  • This resulted in an invasion

 Opposition to Novotny

  • Novotny was Czech leader since 1957, he was a hard line communist and as a result was unpopular and he followed Soviet rules and refused to introduce reforms. 
  • He was also slow to follow “De-stalinisation”. 
  • The Soviet Union forced Novotny to give its raw materials (at a very low price) to benefit Soviet economy, but that further declined Czech economy
  • His poor management of the economy had meant he had lost support of Brezhnev