Vaclav Havel was a Czech writer and dissident whose eloquent dissections of Communist oppression helped to destroy it in revolutions that reverberated across Europe and culminated with the bringing down of the Berlin Wall and the end of the USSR.
But did you know that he was (technically) the president of 4 different countries?
He was elected as post-Communist Czechoslovakia’s first leader, a position he believed was more a duty to the state than any personal aspiration. When the country split in January 1993, he became president of the Czech Republic. Signified by a genuine friendship with Bill Clinton, Havel linked the country firmly to the West, clearing the way for the Czech Republic to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1999 and the European Union five years later.
He was described as a shy yet resilient man, unfailingly polite but dogged man who articulated the power of the powerless, Mr. Havel spent half a decade in communist prisons, lived for two decades under close secret-police surveillance and endured the suppression of his plays and publications. He served for 14 years as president, created 19 plays, inspired a movie and a hip hop song, and remained one of his generation’s most seductively nonconformist writers.
Vaclav Havel passed away on the 18th December 2011 at his home. He had been battling respiratory problems for some time.
Havel was not the longest serving President, but he was in charge of the most different nations.
The Czech Republic has had its fair share of charismatic leaders, both good and bad, and some stayed in politics for many years. Havel had his peacetime critics, as any politician, but nobody can doubt the service he did in rejecting and helping to oust the Communist oppressors. Whilst Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was the longest serving Czech leader, with Seventeen years and one month in office, Václav Havel holds the record as the leader who was in charge of the most different states; albeit without leaving his seat in Prague Castle. He was elected president of both Czechoslovakia and after the split, the Czech Republic. The country was originally called the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, before a small movement in the spring of 1990 called for it to be renamed the Czechoslovak Federative Republic. The country then became what we call today, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. I don’t think he would have liked Czechia very much.
Vaclav Klaus spent the longest time in an elected capacity, first taking the role of Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister, President of the House and President. He spent a total of 23 years, 2 months and 25 days in politics, even though 64,000 people did once sign a petition to have him tried for treason.