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... and Czech Unity

CIVIC FORUM, the opposition group battering away at Czechoslovakia's hard-line communists, was formed less than a month ago. Already it has forced the removal of a supposedly entrenched leader, organized a general strike, and forced the communists to renounce their leading role in society. This week it rejected the lame efforts of Prime Minister Ladislav Adamek to bring non-party members into his Cabinet. Civic Forum demonstrators are in the streets again, demanding real change in the Cabinet. The opposition wants non-communists in key ministries like Defense or Interior, and removal of old-line holdovers.

Civic Forum also announced plans to field candidates in next year's parliamentary elections. This is a shift in tactics, since the citizens' coalition sprang to life disavowing political ambitions. What seemed a makeshift opposition of dissidents, intellectuals, actors, and students is starting to look like a united political entity.

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Ironically, the main force behind opposition unity is the Czechoslovak Communist Party itself. This party, one has to remember, has prided itself on being the least reformist in central Europe. Any element viewed as even faintly reformist was purged after 1968. Hard-line habits were engrained.

Those habits tend to reassert themselves, which explains why a prime minister supposedly trying his best to reform could persuade his colleagues to offer only five minor Cabinet posts to non-party figures who don't even represent the opposition.

Civic Forum's response? Renewed awareness that the kind of unified protest that got them this far will have to continue - and that future political plans had better be laid, because the government can't be trusted to take anything like a leading role in reforming itself.

Events in Czechoslovakia are beginning to resemble those in Poland, where the opposition solidified under one banner in order to move its program forward.

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