Czechoslovak health care was completely nationalized in 1948 and remains a state of affairs in the Czech Republic to this day. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of EZS and acronym for Czech Republic. Healthcare treatments are almost free and sickness benefit is paid. In 2007, the Center-Right Government introduced a small surcharge on doctor visits and hospital stays. The fee became very controversial and in social democratically controlled regions the fee is not charged. In recent years, the number of private practitioners has increased, and attempts have also been made to convert state hospitals to public limited companies.
A new pension insurance law came into force in 1996, raising the retirement age for men from 60 to 62 years and for women from 55-57 years to 60 years. During the privatization era, during the first half of the 1990s the standard of living fell, but thereafter it has gradually risen. According to the EU poverty index, the Czech Republic is among the countries in the EU where poverty threatens the least proportion of the population. Open unemployment has remained at a low level throughout the transformation period. Only in 2003 were figures above 10%. In 2015, unemployment was slightly above 5%.
The Roma population is said to be around 200,000, but is in fact significantly larger and has difficulties in entering the labor market. The group is poorer than the average population and to a greater extent dependent on government grants.
But in 1947 – when the Cold War broke out – Stalin was tired of “the people’s democracies.” He began to count on a third world war and demanded a swift transition to a Soviet pattern of society. This was true of all the countries within the Soviet sphere of influence. As the Communist Party stood so strong in Czechoslovakia, it was easy to reorient the policy compared to elsewhere in Eastern Europe. In the 48 elections, the Communist Party got 51% of the vote, and in June of that year proclaimed the People’s Republic and introduced a socio-economic program in the style of the Soviet Union. But this was the beginning of the end for Czechoslovak independence and for a special “Czechoslovak path to socialism “.
The other parties were suppressed and the entire political, administrative and cultural organization became subordinate to the “leading role” of the Communist Party. Democratic control of power disappeared. In the name of socialism, they built up a bureaucratic dictatorship, which was full of power. The basic civil liberties and rights were erased. A political wave of terror was launched. Hundreds of people were executed and tens of thousands were jailed. Most were innocent.
The Soviet “advisers” eventually turned their terror against Communists. In 1952, the general secretary of the Communist Party, Rudolf Slánský, and ten other leading Communists were executed. Czechoslovakia lost all its freedom of action and was transformed into a satellite state for the Soviet Union. With the 1955 Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union gained full control over Czechoslovakia’s military forces.
The industry, transport and trade were made into state property. Central authorities steered them according to five-year plans, as if they were one big business. Agriculture was collectively forcible and agricultural companies that pretended to be cooperatives were built up. The Czechoslovak economy was largely an appendix to the economy of the Soviet Union. This was organized through the COMECON – Mutual Financial Aid Council – formed in 1949.
Throughout the 1950s, industrialization gained momentum and also led to economic growth in Slovakia. During this period, the productive forces grew, and there was full employment in the country. But economic efficiency was low and living standards only increased slowly. The extensive industrialization created a very uneven development. In the early 1960s, this developed into a deep economic crisis.
The capitalist class structure was gone and a new, non-capitalist social structure emerged. The workers obtained a lot of important social and cultural rights, but they were limited by the authorities’ undemocratic and repressive policies. Yet the upheaval – which was “a mixture of revolution and oppression” – found considerable support in the people for the first time. This was true both in the working class and among the intellectuals. But the bureaucratic system of power prevents the majority of society from participating in decision-making. They were passivated. The political system was also in deep crisis.