1948 Czechoslovak parliamentary election
All 300 seats to the National Assembly
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Parliamentary elections were held in Czechoslovakia on 30 May 1948. They were the first elections held under undisguised Communist rule; the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) had seized complete power three months earlier.
The Communists had become deeply unpopular, and all indications were that they would be voted out of office in the elections due in May. The endgame began on 13 February, when a majority of the cabinet demanded that Communist Interior Minister Vaclav Nosek stop packing the police with Communists. Nosek refused, and was supported by Prime Minister and Communist Party leader Klement Gottwald. On 21 February, 12 non-Communist ministers resigned, believing that President Edvard Beneš would side with them and force Gottwald to either back down, resign, or call early elections that the Communists would not have time to rig. Beneš initially supported their position, and refused to accept their resignations. By this time, however, Gottwald had dropped all pretense of liberal democracy. He not only refused to resign, but demanded the appointment of a Communist-dominated government under threat of a general strike. His Communist colleagues occupied the offices of the non-Communist ministers.
Fearing Red Army intervention, Beneš gave way on 25 February and appointed a new government in accordance with Gottwald's demands. Communists and pro-Moscow Social Democrats held most of the key posts. Members of the other parties still figured, so it was still technically a coalition. However, all except Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk were fellow travellers handpicked by the Communists. On 9 May, a new constitution was approved by the now-subservient Constituent National Assembly. While it was not a completely Communist document, its Communist imprint was strong enough that Beneš refused to sign it.
The reconfigured government scheduled elections in which voters were presented with a single list from the National Front, a postwar coalition that had been converted into a Communist-dominated patriotic organisation. Voters could only reject the list by requesting a blank ballot. The Front officially received 89.2 percent of the vote, with the Communists and their Slovak branch winning 214 of the 300 seats (160 for the main party and 54 for the Slovak branch), enough for a majority in their own right. Their majority grew even larger when the Social Democrats merged with the Communists later in the year.
The non-socialist members of the Front were allowed to maintain their existence in order to keep up the appearance of pluralism. However, since no party could take part in the political process without KSČ approval, Communist control was now total. Representation was allocated in accordance with a set percentage. For the next four decades, voters would only have the option of approving or rejecting a single list from the National Front.
Beneš resigned three days after the elections, and Gottwald took over most presidential duties until his formal election as president 12 days later.
The 89.2 percent received by the Front would be the lowest vote share that it would claim during the 41 years of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. In subsequent elections, the Front would claim to win with 97 percent or more of the vote.
|Source: Czechoslovak Unit|
|Communist Party of Czechoslovakia||160|
|Communist Party of Slovakia||54|
|Social Democratic Party||23|
|Czechoslovak People's Party||23|
|Czechoslovak Socialist Party||23|
|Party of Slovak Revival||12|
|Source: Czechoslovak Unit|
- Results of the elections in Czechoslovakia CZSO
- Grogin, Robert C. Natural Enemies: The United States and the Soviet Union in the Cold War, 1917–1991. Lexington Books, 2001, ISBN 0-7391-0160-9.
- Czechoslovak history at Encyclopædia Britannica
- Hugh LeCaine Agnew (2004) The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, Hoover Press, p1954
- Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia: Stalinization Library of Congress Country Studies