Czechoslovakia's oldest party

June 12, 1991

Czechoslovakia's oldest party

Established 130 years ago, in 1878, the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party sees itself as part of the 19th century tradition of European Social Democracy and as the oldest party still active in Czechoslovak politics.

Associated closely with the "founder" of the postwar Czechoslovak republic, Tomas Masaryk (who was a member of no party), it became the largest party after 1918. Following the split in the movement, from which the Communist Party emerged, the Social Democrats remained the second largest party in the country, and, with the exception of three years in the 1920s, participated in all Czechoslovak governments.

The party was dissolved at the end of the first republic in 1938, when it was first transformed into the National Labour Party and then abolished outright by the Nazis. Nonetheless, it continued to function in illegality and in exile, and was re-established after the liberation of Czechoslovakia from the Nazis in 1945, when it became a coalition partner in the Communist-led government until 1948.

Then, everywhere in Eastern Europe, the Social Democratic parties were dissolved by Stalin. Again, the party went into exile until the fall of the Communist Party government in 1989. In May 1990, the CSD was returned to full membership of the Second International, of which the party was a foundation member last century. It plays an increasingly active role in the life of the international and is cultivating close relations with other member parties.

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