President denounces Victorious February in address to Communist Party delegates

President Miloš Zeman reminded delegates of the Communist Party at their convention in Nymburk, east of Prague on Saturday that so-called Victorious February (Vítězný únor, when the Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia in 1948) was anything but and had led to totalitarian rule.

He recalled democrats such as Milada Horáková or General Helidor Píka who were murdered by the regime, saying those had not been "mistakes or deformations" of the system "but crimes". In his speech he said he wished he could with a clear conscience call the Communists "a democratic party" and appealed to delegates to exercise greater self-reflection moving forward.

Mr Zeman is the first post-1989 president to attend a Communist Party convention.

For the first time since 1989, the Communists hold important cards when it comes to the formation of the next government: the president warned the Communist Party not to make exaggerated demands and not to miss the opportunity at hand.

The election-winners ANO and the Social Democrats are currently negotiating a minority government which will effectively require their support in most key votes including a vote of confidence in the lower house.

Author: Jan Velinger