State of Grace: A Probe into Understanding Democratic Trust and Legitimacy Through the Eyes of the VPN (The Public Against Violence)


Gaining trust, both domestically and internationally, became a self-evident mission for the protagonists of the 1989 democratic revolution, something ever-present within the new policies aimed at a political and economic transition. This held true in particular with the Czechoslovak case. Unlike the situation in Poland or Hungary, where the legitimacy of the political transition was framed by the so-called Round Table Talks, revolutionaries from the Civic Forum (Občanské forum or OF) and the Public Against Violence (Verejnosť proti násiliu or VPN) had to extract their legitimacy directly from the very event of the Velvet Revolution. This exposed the policies of the OF and VPN to a participatory scrutiny of sorts in an even more imminent manner. In order to gain trust, at best transferable to actual political results, i.e. winning an election, the proponents of the democratic revolution in Czechoslovakia engaged in both policies and politics which would create an environment most preferable for their goals. This text focuses on the political language of ethics and politics, totalitarianism and Europeanization, focusing mainly on strategies used by the VPN and seeks to understand how an environment focused on developing and gaining trust functioned in the Slovak case.