Sociologist Jan Hartl set up Czechoslovakia’s first modern-day polling agency, STEM, in 1990 and has been closely monitoring domestic politics and society ever since. When we spoke, the conversation took in Czech politicians’ shifting attitude to opinion surveys, Václav Havel’s private discussion circle and the “cautious nature” of the country’s voters. But I first asked Mr. Hartl for his standout memories of the Velvet Revolution.

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