For more than 40 years, beginning with the Communist Party’s seizure of power in February 1948, Czechoslovakia was a part of the Soviet bloc with only limited ties to Western Europe and the European Community (EC). Everything changed very suddenly and dramatically in the fateful year of 1989, however. Against the backdrop of revolutionary developments elsewhere in Eastern Europe, political tensions grew throughout the year in Czechoslovakia as well. Following the brutal breakup of a student demonstration by the police in Prague on 17 November, these tensions gave birth to a democratic revolution (the “Velvet Revolution”, so-called because of its relatively peaceful nature) that ended the communist system and sent the country in a wholly new direction. On 29 November the democratic opposition succeeded in repealing Article 4 of the Czech constitution, which had guaranteed the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, and in early December the first democratic coalition government – in which opposition representatives had a majority – was formed. Under pressure from the opposition, the Communist Gustav Husák resigned as president, and on 29 December the dissident playwright Václav Havel was elected as his successor. National parliamentary elections were held in June 1990, leading to the formation of a democratic coalition government under the leadership of Prime Minister Marián Čalfa.1