Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Reformer Calls for Education in Democracy

THESE are happy and hopeful days for Ladislav Hejdanek, philosopher and veteran opposition figure, as he eagerly reflects on the dramatic events in Czechoslovakia from his apartment not far from Wenceslas Square in central Prague. Yes, he is hopeful, but he's also afraid, he says, that the changes are only on the surface. ``All the power is still in the hands of the Communist Party and the official institutions.''

Still, he doesn't believe in a backlash.

About these ads

``No, the Communist Party has no choice anymore. Massive repression is quite improbable.''

Mr. Hejdanek emphasizes that the struggle has just begun, and that it will be a difficult one.

``Czechoslovakia has not had democracy in half a century. We have no politicians, no statesmen, no political programs.'' The main task of the intelligentsia now, he adds, is to think hard, express new ideas, and formulate new programs.

As to the leadership's newly proposed elections, Hejdanek thinks they will not be democratic since they will take place in a situation of relative chaos, where some democratic changes have occurred but no real democratic structures exist.

It will take at least four to five years to develop a new generation of competent people who can step forward and be elected. People must be educated in democracy.

According to Hejdanek, the dramatic changes have created a political vacuum, where for months the Communist Party will remain in better position than anyone else.

``And the Communist Party will have a certain chance if it democratizes itself, and I think we can count on its ability to restructure itself and send the best people forward. This is not the end of the Communist Party. We must not underestimate the communists.''

About these ads

``Remember also,'' he continues, ``that the Czechoslovak Communist Party is different from the communist parties in Poland and Hungary. It is much older and has much stronger traditions.''

The social democrats have traditionally been weak, while the Communists received almost forty percent of the vote in the last free elections after the war. And Hejdanek sees Czechoslovak political tradition not only as democratic but also as socialist.

``Communists will remain in Czechoslovakia so it is in our common interest to make their party into a democratic party in a democratic society. And I think the democratic values within the party well win. It cannot go back now.'' -30-{et

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.