The end of World War II brought the reunification of Czechoslovakia whose president was
Edvard Beneš elected on his return from exile. On May 26, 1946, elections to the National
Assembly were held where the communists won 114 seats (out of 300). It is worth noting that
the elections were indeed free, which was a unique event in the Eastern Bloc. The new prime
minister was the communist Klement Gottwald and the president Beneš again. Since the
Communists did not win the majority of votes, they were forced to form a coalition
government. The cabinet consisted of nine communists, four socialists, four peasant activists,
four democrats, three social democrats and two nonpartisan ministers.
The National Assembly did not take a unanimous position when it came to international
politics, for example – the communists wanted to get closer to the USSR, and non-communist
politicians wanted to maintain traditional ties with Western powers.
In February 1948, the communists carried out a coup d'état that gave them full power. Anti-
communist politicians, intellectuals and officers, fearing for their freedom and lives, were
leaving the country on a massive scale. A constitution was passed on 9th May in which
Czechoslovakia was defined as a "people's democracy". The electoral law allowing only
candidates on the lists issued by the ruling camp - the National Front - to stand was changed.
A week later, Edvard Beneš resigned (without signing the Basic Law) and withdrew from
public life (he died only a few months later). The process of the communist party's seizure of
power in Czechoslovakia was completed.