The Velvet Revolution 32 years on

Czechs and Slovaks are today celebrating the anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution on 17 November 1989, when Czechoslovakia's communist regime was toppled almost without violence in the struggle for freedom and democracy. Commentators reflect on what remains of those aspirations 32 years later.

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Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Take your fate into your own hands

Hospodářské noviny accuses the young Czechs of not knowing what to do with the freedom they have been bequeathed:

“This young generation is looking for its own values, and points to problems such as the housing crisis or the low proportion of women in management positions. But the young want these problems more or less to solve themselves. The most they are willing to do is reproach the old for standing in the way of progress. Freedom, however, does not mean letting someone else push through change for you. Freedom means the young having the opportunity to do things for themselves. The conclusion from 17 November 2021 is: we wanted freedom and now we have it. But we have not yet learned to use it properly.”

Pravda (SK) /

Without civic participation the incompetent rule the country

Slovakia is witnessing a crisis of democracy and alienation from social affairs which opens the door to demagogues, Pravda puts in:

“Despite its shortcomings, democracy is the most humane form of government because it alone includes all those who are not indifferent to the future of the country in the decision-making process. ... However, if we are not prepared to participate in politics we will naturally be governed by the most incompetent among us. Those who brought about November '89 fulfilled their role. Today it's our turn to cultivate a sense of belonging, trust and tolerance and find new forms of civic engagement. Only in this way can we bring hope and democracy into the 21st century.”