PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia — The country's new Parliament today reelected former dissident playwright Vaclav Havel as president, completing the political transition from communist to democratic rule.
He is to serve a two-year term.
The immensely popular Havel, running unopposed, was elected with the necessary three-fifths majority in a nationally televised secret ballot. A total of 234 deputies voted for him, and 50 against.
There were no abstentions. Sixteen deputies were absent.
"I think the fact that there were 50 deputies voting against me is a very good, significant and convincing evidence of the democratic character of my election. . . . I am quite rejoicing over that. I would not feel good if I had been elected by 100% as was my predecessor," Havel said.
Havel, who on Dec. 29 became the country's first non-communist president in 42 years, was nominated by Civic Forum and its Slovak counterpart, Public Against Violence. The two groups led the peaceful revolution that toppled the hard-line Communist Party regime in November.
The parliamentary session, held in a medieval hall at the Hradcany Castle, was opened by Parliament President Alexander Dubcek, whose "Prague Spring" reforms of 1968 were crushed by Soviet tanks.
"By the election of the president, the revolutionary transition, which we have been living through since November, will be ended," Dubcek said.
He praised Havel as a man who "has proved competent as a politician and statesman. . . . Vaclav Havel, playwright in the seat of president, has gained, by his work, the confidence of our people.