Euro-demonstration in Prague: resistance and the search for alternatives

5. 10. 2010 / Ilona Švihlíková

Just as in Linz, Bratislava, Vienna, Athens or Brussels, also Prague had on the 29th of September a so-called Euro-demonstation against the governments` budget cuts. However, Prague had had yet another large demonstration, called because of the (non)discussion of the relevant laws around the cuts by the cabinet, about a week before that European event, coordinated by the continent's unions. The demonstration that took place on 21st of September showed that (not only) civil servants, but also common people are still able to stand up for, act and fight for their rights. In a country where for a long time a general lack of interest in public affairs had reigned, where there is a belief in privatizing the public sector and where there is a widespread understanding that "decent people don't strike", that event became of an even bigger importance than would have otherwise been the case.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK HERE

The significance of public protests is for democracy a key factor, because it shows a fundamental dimension of the political life of a citizen: participation in political events, not as a passive spectator or passer-by, but as an active person. If it were not for exactly this kind of resistance expressed in public demonstrations or more robust protests, it would be possible that a lot of us until today would not have democratic voting rights.

The Euro-demonstration in Prague was organized as a Czech Social Forum. It took place in the guise of a forum of critics of the current budget cuts from the NGOs, the unions, social movements and various organizations who want to offer alternative solutions and methods for the future.

In the seminars that happened in the Prague City Hall building strong criticism of the so-called "reforms" (i.e. government cuts) was the main theme, covering the consequences that will probably follow from them. But it was not about only saying what is wrong about the planned cuts -- many projects with possible alternative solutions also emerged.

There were proposals to intensify the demonstrations and events in cooperation with the unions, there were debates about how average citizens need to spread around the information regarding those cuts that can cause fatal damage, as what may happen in the case of, for example, the privatization of the pension and social security systems, considering that Czech non-commercial, public media, tragically, do not fulfill its public service role.

There were even proposals for the creation of a new leftist party or for the support of a general strike, which would have to be very successful.Were it to turn out to be ineffective, it would threaten the whole movement. There was a lot of support for the idea of a round table of representatives from various initiatives, of course also with the unions, which could, then, through their activities, could better coordinate the movement and warn against unnecessary duplicity of proposals. The seminar ended with a wonderful speech by the former Czech ombudsman Anna Šabatová, in which she emphasized the role of human rights and the importance of a social state. She also talked about the "envy", which the Right loves ta abuse for its political ends.

Ironically, after the event there was a happening organised by the F.O.F.R. agency, which proposed even more radical cuts than Finance Minister Kalousek and premier Nečas together, including the freedom to sell one's own noble titles or even kidneys... In the end, the protesters went to the government headquarters to protest with slogans like "The government is against the people, so the people will be against the government" or "Let's cut the government, instead of the budget", where they also offered for the interested to add their signatures to a protest petition.

We can only hope that the representatives from the NGOs, various organizations and the unions will continue to cooperate with the Czech Social Forum, and will be able to gather more and more support from average citizens, so that they actively join the opposition to this government.


Obsah vydání | Sobota 10.12. 2016