A small rally took place in front of President’s Palace in Bratislava yesterday, 14 November called “The Velvet Revolution Isn’t Over – Let’s Finish It”, with around 50 people calling for the gap between democratic ideals and reality to be closed.
The name of the rally and the idea behind it makes me think of the article I wrote last year with the same name and basically the same subject. I am not making any claim to have rekindled a revolutionary spirit, but it is good to see people starting to be pro-active in this sense.
This Wednesday 17 November will commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Velvet Revolution of 1989 with a national holiday. The organisers of Sunday’s rally have drawn up what they call Civil Charter 2010, setting out their views and demands on what our young Slovak democracy should look like in reality.
Charter 2010 is an attempt to emulate, in a contemporary context, the renowned Charter 77 that was compiled by intellectuals and writers in 1977 demanding basic human rights from the then Czechoslovak communist regime.
The sentiment of the new Charter 2010 is that the hope that came with the November 1989 revolution has been squandered, as there is a strong lack of plurality in terms of public discussion nowadays. The document states how an increasing number of laws are going against the grain of the spirit of the Velvet Revolution and how democracy has become a mere formal procedure that is often misused.
Many people now feel that the chance of a living in true democracy is slipping out of our fingers as successive governments disregard the demands of people. According to organiser of the rally, Eduard Chmelar, many of the demands made back in 1989 have still not been met, such as ensuring the impartiality and independence of the courts.
“We want public officials to take democracy seriously, to defend it at all levels, and to apply completely in practice” said Chmelar.