1948-02-21 to 1948-02-25
Slovakia - CzechiaThe 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état was an event late that February in which the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, with Soviet backing, assumed undisputed control over the government of Czechoslovakia, marking the onset of four decades of communist rule in the country.
During the winter of 1947–48, both in the cabinet and in parliament tension between the Communists and their opponents led to increasingly bitter conflict. Matters came to a head in February 1948, when Nosek illegally extended his powers by attempting to purge remaining non-Communist elements in the National Police Force.
Nosek, backed by Gottwald, refused to yield. He and his fellow Communists threatened to use force and, in order to avoid defeat in parliament, mobilised groups of their supporters in the country. On 21 February, twelve non-Communist ministers resigned in protest after Nosek refused to reinstate eight non-Communist senior police officers despite a majority vote of the cabinet in favour of doing so.
On 25 February 1948, Beneš, fearful of civil war and Soviet intervention, capitulated. He accepted the resignations of the non-Communist ministers and appointed a new government in accordance with KSČ (Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) demands.
On 9 May, a new constitution was approved by parliament. Although it declared Czechoslovakia a "people's democracy" under the leadership of the KSČ, it was not a completely Communist document. However, it was close enough to the Soviet model that Beneš refused to sign it.
At the 30 May elections, voters were presented with a single list from the National Front, which officially won 89.2% of the vote; within the National Front list, the Communists had an absolute majority of 214 seats (160 for the main party and 54 for the Slovak branch). This majority grew even larger when the Social Democrats merged with the Communists later in the year.
Beneš died in September, bringing a symbolic close to the sequence of events, and was buried before an enormous and silent throng come to mourn the passing of a popular leader and of the democracy he had come to represent.