The breakup of Czechoslovakia, when the Czechs and Slovaks fell victim to the "narcissism of minor differences," was one of the most surprising developments of the post-Communist transition in Eastern Europe. 1 Political scientists initially thought that a united Czechoslovakia had the best chance of making a smooth transition to democracy. Indeed, the Civic Forum, an ad hoc coalition of heterogeneous elements that had formed during the November Revolution in 1989 in the Czech lands and its Slovakian equivalent, had won a sweeping victory in the first wave of elections in 1990. 2 Its leader, Vaclav Havel, was elected president of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989, and then president for a two year term in June, 1990.
As was the case in other East European states undergoing the political transition, there was a considerable fragmentation of the political spectrum. Close to 60 political parties emerged, including such novelties as the Friends of Beer party. In the years after the revolution, a disintegration of the great anti-Communist coalitionsthe Civic Form and the Public Against Violence--took place. By the time the second wave of national elections took place, the political scene in the Czech republic was dominated by more pragmatic forces led by Vaclav Klaus, who created a center-right political party from within the Civic Forum. Klaus was an economist and former finance minister who favored shock therapy. Klaus' Civic Democratic Party