Commentary: If the government doesn’t tame the anger, someone will be happy to saddle it

Commentary: If the government doesn’t tame the anger, someone will be happy to saddle it
Commentary: If the government doesn’t tame the anger, someone will be happy to saddle it

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The scale of Saturday’s demonstration on Wenceslas Square far surpassed all previous manifestations of dissatisfaction related to covid measures or the government’s foreign policy orientation. This is a bare, indisputable and very important fact. Now begins an equally important battle for the interpretation of the causes and consequences of this fact.

A very short-sighted interpretation would be to say that the reason for the large turnout is the simple sum of the supporters of all those who participated in the organization of the event. It is true that a variety of groups, from Landau’s Golden Pins to several non-parliamentary parties to extreme nationalists and an obvious Russian fifth column, called their supporters to Saturday’s demonstration. However, groups of supporters of similar associations and ideas overlap to a large extent.

What happened on Wenceslas Square

There were around ten thousand people at the big covid demonstration on the Old Town Square last November. It would be rather strange if, just because of the participation of nationalists and lovers of Vladimir Putin, there were five or seven times as many at Wenceslas Square less than a year later.

Closer to the truth would be the interpretation that the aforementioned groups managed to expand the ranks of “rock” supporters on Wenceslas Square to include people who were not moved by admiration for the Russian regime, nor by crazed Facebook debates about the coming totalitarianism, much less by phantasmagoric creations about “dilution of the nation”, but by existential fear, possibly anger, or a combination of both. Existential fears stemming from store receipts and energy bills and anger stemming from the government’s scornful attitudes, its laziness, confused communication and the god-like belief that nothing better than what is being done can be done.

In other words, the numerically narrow groups of organizers, about whom Prime Minister Fiala quite rightly claims that they care very little about the interests of the Czech Republic, tried with Saturday’s demonstration to acquire a kind of soft shell of supporters or lukewarm sympathizers in addition to their hard core of supporters. And it was this group that Fiala (again?) overlooked as a wide field, or he didn’t want to see it, in any case he didn’t pay half a word to it.

It is clear that the aforementioned fears and anger, which were given a very clear, loud and photogenic form on Saturday, will now be tried by every sane political force in the country. Non-parliamentary parties are competing on social networks as to which has more credit for a successful demonstration.

In addition to their representatives, two presidential candidates also spoke directly at the event (Josef Skála as the presidential horse of the KSČM and Hynek Blaško, who despite his MEP jersey is not yet a SPD candidate). Andrej Babiš predicts with understanding that next time there may be even more people. Although he does not talk about “dilution of the nation”, he is not at all ashamed to label Fial’s government as Ukrainian and to arouse envy towards refugees. Tomio Okamura compared the demonstration to his own attempt to express no confidence in the government in the House of Representatives. The chairman of the non-parliamentary ČSSD Michal Šmarda spoke with understanding to the economic concerns of the demonstrators, although not to the ideological basis of the organizers, and tried to sell them the expensive solution offered by his party. By the middle.

Trade unionists also want to take to the streets

In this context, it is good to remember that in the last parliamentary elections, a million votes were cast outside the parliament, which is an important, if not the most important reason for the current distribution of forces in the Chamber. Petr Fiala was aware of this back in April at the ODS congress. He talked about the fact that many people voted for the coalition Along with the self-denial, he talked about lost votes and the fact that those who belonged to them did not disappear anywhere.

Today, however, Fial’s government takes a very similar approach to the big protest, as Andrej Babiš took to the actions of the Million Moments. Disdainfully, as if it didn’t concern her. At the same time, if the cabinet does not want to create big problems, it should read the situation more carefully and should not be satisfied with (justified) defamation of the organizers.

Of course, the government is not in a position in which it could, like its opponents, directly ride the mentioned anger of the people and ride on it higher and further. On the other hand, she is in an executive position that allows her to moderate or, to use equine terminology, tame this anger and fear.

This does not mean at all that he should adhere to the ideological principles of the organizers of Saturday’s demonstration. The government must stand firmly behind its correct foreign policy course. But she is also obliged to explain it repeatedly and clearly with all the context. Including why it makes sense to face rising energy prices, why it is important to face them unitedly and together, and how the government wants to remove this unpleasant burden at least from the shoulders of those who need it most.

Unfortunately, it is precisely in that last point that Fialo’s cabinet does not have much to brag about. Aid is unaddressed, slow and in recent weeks it seems that its volume will have to be significantly greater than previously thought.

If the government were to fulfill these homework tasks and inform about them clearly, it may be able to significantly reduce the mentioned “soft cover” of Saturday’s demonstration and keep its members at least with parties plus or minus that respect the existing democratic political system. The Czechia really does not deserve that the promoters of the “Czech national uprising” and the fight against the “deliberate dilution of the Czech nation” celebrate repeated street success. And the government should not help them in this.

The article is in Czech

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