It has been 85 years since the death of the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomas Garrig Masaryk. A professor of philosophy and an effective politician, he became a symbol of the Czechoslovak independence movement, earning the nickname “President of the Liberator” and, thanks to a special constitutional exception, head of state. I was able to get the position of 4 times in total. The online daily Aktuálně.cz has mapped the situation of each presidential election. The first choice was not the right one.Masaryk brought to Prague Castle the general recognition of the Revolutionary National Assembly.This was followed by the first true presidential elections in 1920, won in 1927. The last time Masaryk became president was in his 1934, when he was already seriously ill.

Election of parliament and head of state

In the first republic, 450 deputies (300 deputies and 150 deputies) decided the presidential election. The exception was his 1920 presidential election, when the National Assembly consisted of only 281 deputies and 142 deputies. The 1920 elections were not held throughout Czechoslovakia, and his remaining 27 deputies filled both chambers in the years that followed.

Elected four times by the president.First with the founding of the Republic, and finally with his death in 1934 as a sick man.

The outcome of the November 14, 1918 presidential election

Centuries-old Austrian monarchy collapsed, Germany surrendered, ending the most terrible war in history. Czechoslovakia existed for only a few days, a border area populated mainly by Germans of Czech descent, and quickly attempted to break out of it. In this atmosphere, on November 14, 1918, the Provisional Parliament of Czechoslovakia met for the first time at the Rudolfinum in Prague.

The task of the Revolutionary National Assembly, made up of members elected to the Austrian Imperial Council, was to put an official political representative in the new head of state.

The meeting was presided over by Karel Kramarsch, representative of the young Bohemian political sector and later the country’s first prime minister. And in his speech, he spared no patriotism and nationalism.

“We are all full of joy, pride and pride in all that our country has achieved in that terrible war. I believed and hoped that it would eventually have to come,” he declared…in his introductory speech. He continued in the same spirit, gradually boiling the deputies.

When he transferred his contagious enthusiasm to MPs, he took action. “Now we have to do something really mature,” he said, and he told his colleagues, “Elect Tomas Masaryk as the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic. I want it,” he requested.

This is how the only proposal that should be made head of the country was briefly created. Thunderous applause and cries of “Glory!” echoed through the Rudolfinum.

And in short, Kramersh closed out the election shortly after. The state won a president and served as its chief for 17 years, becoming its symbol.

Masaryk’s opposition in the 1918 presidential election

In 1918, in principle, it was not a matter of choice. Tomas G. Masaryk became president of the republic by so-called applause, i.e. by express general consent. It was suggested by later Prime Minister Karel Kramarsch, and no other name has been suggested.

The outcome of the presidential election of May 27, 1920

In 1920, in accordance with the Constitution, the Parliament actually elected the President of the Republic for the first time in the true sense of the word, for a term of seven years. The election came weeks after the blue wedge was added to the country’s flag.

For Czechoslovakia, it was a time of euphoria from the founding of a new state and respite after the war with Bolshevik Hungary.

They had already expressed their displeasure at the moment Social Democrat Speaker of the House of Representatives Frantisek Tomasek announced an electoral method of throwing ballots into the ballot box. They yelled at him that he only spoke Czech and that they didn’t understand him.

They continued their protest when the recorder called them to the ballot box and read out their first names in the Czech form. “Heinrich!” “Franz!” “Wentzel!”

“You can take away our liberty, at least leave our name!” shouted German parliamentarian Josef Patzel, alluding to the occupation of the border by Czechoslovak troops in 1918. At that time, four German states tried to secede from the newly formed republic.

In the end, Masaryk received 284 votes and the required three-fifths majority was 247 votes. At that moment, many German parliamentarians withdrew from the demonstration.

Speaker of the House of Commons Tomashek then expressed uncritical admiration for Masaryk. “Of course the election decided for you. It was a given. Could you have any doubts about that? Of course not.” It only blesses and at the same time assures you of a purer, greater and more beautiful feeling of civic devotion, the other out of ardent love for you,” he said.

1920 presidential election results


284 votes

61 votes Close Candidate Profile
August Nagle (1869–1932)

German historian, theologian, Roman Catholic priest, statesman and rector of the German University in Prague. From his 1920 he served as a senator of the German People’s Party until 1925. The church made it impossible for him to run again.


4 votes Close Candidate Profile
Alois Muna (1886–1943)

Czechoslovak politician and member of the Communist Party during the interwar period. Before he entered politics, he earned his living as a tailor. During World War I, he was captured on the Eastern Front and in captivity was influenced by Bolshevik ideology, and after the war he helped found the Communist Party.


2 votes Close Candidate Profile
Antonin Januschek (1877–1941)

Czech journalist and communist politician. He lived for many years in Hungary, where he took part in a communist coup. In Slovakia, the Council declared a temporary Slovak Republic. In 1921 he tried to emigrate to the USSR, but he was arrested and charged with treason.

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Minutes of the Presidential Election of May 27, 1927

The 1927 presidential election was held in a stable political climate and relatively favorable economic conditions, which was reflected in the course of the election. While the revolutionary fervor in the Speaker’s speech has decreased, the electoral process has increased.

But the selection itself was very exciting. According to historian Antonin Klimek, Masaryk had decided to give up his candidacy if he lost the first round of elections. Without votes from the German opposition, the communists, the National Democrats and the Slovak nationalists, he would never have reached his three-fifths of the current constitutional parliamentary seats. Being deaf, this was a real threat.

The president also considered the idea of ​​Edvard Benes running in his stead, but he was not well supported, and in late 1926 he fell seriously ill.

Ultimately, two participated in the election. Masaryk and the communist anti-candidate Wenceslas Struk. Media speculation about other candidates did not materialize.

House Speaker and farmer Jan Malypetr spent a lot of time before the election itself explaining the steps and differences between different colored envelopes intended for a possible next round of elections. The atmosphere was disturbed by Communist deputies angry that one of the Communist deputies, Nikolai Sedlyak, was imprisoned and unable to participate in the elections.

In the end, Masaryk won the support of the German Social Democratic Party, thanks to which he crossed the required three-fifths threshold – it reached 261 votes, 274 of which were cast for the current president. Masaryk’s electors applauded, and political parties critical of the communists and German delegate Masaryk firmly declined the rally.

The former president was welcomed by farmer Maripetr, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. “It is my great pleasure to welcome and greet you in the National Assembly today, having been re-elected as President of the Republic after seven years. Trust your rigorous justice and fairness to the Heads of State who have come to Congress to conduct

Results of the 1927 presidential election


274 votes

54 votes Close Candidate Profile
Wenceslas Struk (1858–1939)

The Czechoslovak politician changed several left-wing parties during his political career. He was the first chairman and senator of the Communist Party he co-founded. He then won the split Leninist senator seat. When Clement Gottwald became leader of the Communist Party, he was expelled from the party.

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The outcome of the presidential election of May 24, 1934

Recording of the 1934 election

Tomas Garrige Masaryk participated in the last election as an 84-year-old sick man who recently had a stroke. Although the president’s office has only spoken publicly about the “spring flu,” Masaryk was nearly blind and had trouble controlling his right hand.

Nevertheless, he decided to participate in the fourth presidential election – Edvard Benes, whom he had chosen as his successor, did not find enough support and Masaryk also feared political destabilization. I was.

On Thursday, May 24, members of the House of Representatives and Senators met and, for the first time, elections were held in the Vladislav Hall, replacing the Great Rudolfinum Hall, where the presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic were elected until 2008. Chamber of Commerce farmer Frantisek Stañek.

The only one who opposed Masaryk was Clement Gottwald, chairman of the KSČ Central Committee, who withdrew from the meeting “because of illness”. But the communists yelled even louder to disrupt the meeting.

Ballots were issued to legislators in envelopes for review, and voting was conducted in secret. The result was clear, with Masaryk his 327 votes and Gottwald his 38. “Thus, Dr. Tomáš Garrige Masaryk has been re-elected President of the Czechoslovak Republic,” Staěk announced. At least, that’s how the parliamentary stenographers described the events in Vladislav’s hall.

After a 15-minute break, Masaryk took the oath of office. Whereas in previous elections it was enough to say the word “I promise”, according to the new rules the new president had to say the whole ceremony: to defend the republic and the people, to defend the constitution and other uphold the law.”

However, this was a problem for the sick and debilitated Masaryk. In the extant audio recordings, we can clearly hear how he had to tell the president, word for word. After the president finished his remarks, the audience erupted with shouts of “Glory” and long applause.

Masaryk, whose health continued to deteriorate, abdicated at the end of 1935. At that time, Benes already had enough support among the political parties to replace him. Eventually, Masaryk’s opponent Gottwald, elected on June 14, 1948, was also elected president.

Results of the 1934 presidential election


327 votes

38 votes Close Candidate Profile
Clement Gottwald (1896–1953)

Long-time chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Czech Republic, a vocal critic of inter-war democracy and president of Czechoslovakia since 1948. In his youth he trained as a carpenter. According to historians, he was directly responsible for the liquidation of his opponents.

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