Marián Čalfa

Marián Čalfa (born 7 May 1946, in Trebišov) is the former Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia during and after the Velvet Revolution, as well as de facto acting President for 19 days, and was a key facilitator of the smooth transfer of power from Communist rule to a new democratic representation.

Marián Čalfa
Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia
In office
10 December 1989 – 2 July 1992
Preceded byLadislav Adamec
Succeeded byJan Stráský
Personal details
Born (1946-05-07) 7 May 1946 (age 74)
Trebišov, Czechoslovakia
Political partyCommunist Party of Czechoslovakia (c. 1968–1990)
Public Against Violence (1990–1991)
Civic Democratic Union (Slovakia) (1991–1992)

A Slovak, from 1985 he worked as the head of a legislative department of the Czechoslovak federal government. In April 1988, he became a minister - the chairman of the legislative committee. During the Velvet Revolution, on 10 December 1989, he was appointed Prime Minister in place of discredited Ladislav Adamec. Although he himself was a member of the KSČ, this government had a non-Communist majority. He thus headed the first cabinet in 41 years that was not dominated by the KSČ. When President Gustáv Husák resigned from his office shortly after swearing in the government, Čalfa also took on most presidential duties until the election of Václav Havel on 29 December.

On 18 January 1990, he left the KSČ to join the Public Against Violence (VPN) party, the Slovak counterpart of Havel's Civic Forum. He thus became the first prime minister since before World War II who was not a Communist or a fellow traveler. The only non-Communist to hold the premiership before the start of Communist rule, Social Democrat Zdeněk Fierlinger, was openly pro-Communist (and later led his party into a merger with the Communists). He helped lead the Havel movement to a sweeping victory in the 1990 elections—the first free elections held in the country in 44 years. When VPN dissolved in April 1991, Čalfa followed most of the party into the Civic Democratic Union (ODU-VPN), of which he became a leading member.

Both cabinets headed by Čalfa succeeded in introducing significant political and economic reforms, facilitating the transition from Communism Party rule to a multi-party system and a market-oriented economy. Čalfa enjoyed strong support from all relevant political powers, including both President Václav Havel and an increasingly confident Finance Minister Václav Klaus.

Čalfa resigned from the Federal Government after the defeat of the Public Against Violence in the elections of 1992.[1] He was succeeded by caretaker Jan Stráský, whose major task was the execution of Dissolution of Czechoslovakia. In that year, Čalfa took up Czech citizenship and started working as a lawyer in Prague, heading law firm Čalfa, Bartošík a Partneři.[1]

During his tenure as Prime Minister, Čalfa was occasionally a target of criticism for his Communist past. Some considered this as a proof that the Velvet Revolution was unfinished or even "stolen" by people belonging to the past nomenklatura. Presently, historians consider him as a "power behind the throne," who greatly contributed to the smoothness and speed of Velvet Revolution and the election of Václav Havel as President. He used his negotiation skills in critical moments against his fellow Communist Party members and talked them into compromises that were sometimes more radical the representatives of the Civic Forum had expected.

Many politicians of the subsequent democratic era, including Václav Klaus, said that they learned many things about real politics from Čalfa.

Political offices
Preceded by
Ladislav Adamec
Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia
Succeeded by
Jan Stráský
Preceded by
Gustáv Husák
President of Czechoslovakia

Succeeded by
Václav Havel


  1. ^ a b Mlynář, Vladimír (28 August 1995). "Zeman do vlády nepatří". Respekt (in Czech). Retrieved 9 October 2016.

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