Czechs - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The traditional tripartite social structure—a sizable working class including the peasants, the middle class, and a relatively small upper class—gave way during Communism to a "classless" society with two distinct classes: privileged members of the higher echelons of the Communist party and the rest of the population. Material benefits also accrued to successful artists and to those who performed valuable services or distributed goods in short supply.

Political Organization. Between 1918 and 1939, political life was characterized by a large number of rival political parties. Between 1948 and 1990, there were only three, all part of the National Front, but the Communist party had a monopoly on power. The free national election in June of 1990 was again characterized by the rivalry of a large number of political parties. The republic as a whole (CSFR) has two legislative houses—the Chamber of Nations and the Chamber of the People. The highest administrative organs of CR are the Czech National Council, the government of CR, the supreme court, the office of the prosecutor general, and the defense council. Administration on the level of the region ( kraj ), district ( okres ), and community ( obec ) continues to be in the hands of the respective national councils, but some administrative changes are under consideration.

Social Control. Conformity with the law is maintained by a police force and a strict and efficient court system. Since the end of 1989, political dissent is again tolerated. A tradition of strong bureaucracy, inherited from Austro-Hungarian times, continues unabated.

Conflict. The Czechs view their history as a series of conflicts with the surrounding German-speaking population. The most recent expressions of this conflict were the German occupation of the area from 1939 to 1945 and the removal of the great majority of Germans after World War II.

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