- Historical event
- 29 December 1989
- Vaclav Havel was the first president of Czechoslovakia (precisely from this day in 1989), and after its dissolution was elected president of the independent Czech Republic.
On this day the leader of the Velvet Revolution Vaclav Havel became president of Czechoslovakia. It is interesting that he was not elected for that position directly by the people, but by the Federal Assembly (Czechoslovak parliament). Havel was appointed to that post as the leader of the Civic Forum – the opposition movement that started the Velvet Revolution.
Only in 1990 were free elections for the president of Czechoslovakia held, and resulted in Havel’s victory. He remained president of Czechoslovakia until 1992, when Slovakia declared its own constitution, and Havel resigned because he did not want to preside over the country’s breakup. Czechoslovakia indeed soon fell apart. In the independent Czech Republic, Havel stood for election and was elected president in 1993. He remained on that position for two terms, until 2003. He was, therefore, president of two countries (Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic). He died on 18 December 2011, from the complications caused by a long-term illness (back in 1996, being a chain smoker, he was diagnosed with lung cancer). Havel’s motto was: “Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.”