Monday, 23 April 2018

Lawyer: Czechs face businessmen's populism, crisis of parties

ČTK |
11 December 2017

Prague, Dec 8 (CTK) - The social contract has collapsed in the Czech Republic, which faces businessmen's populism and a crisis of political parties, Jiri Priban, Czech lawyer and sociologist at the University of Wales, said at a conference on Friday, warning against the current Czech developments as potentially dangerous.

The conference of experts in the Senate seat in Prague marked the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Czech constitution.

Priban said the constitution bars the lowest instincts from bursting out in full.

"The instincts have been out already, they are in the streets already, they are in offices already," Priban said, referring to Czech developments.

The new Czech cabinet may be installed "thanks to extremists' votes that are lethal for democracy," Priban said, referring to the forthcoming minority cabinet of Andrej Babis (ANO) that is not sure of lower house's confidence, from which a government's legitimacy is derived.

"Coups usually come creeping," Priban said.

He said the country needs a mobilisation of constitutional reason, rationality that would not allow itself to be intimidated by the voice of the crowd.

Constitutional Court judge Vojtech Simicek said the biggest risk is the rising contempt for democratic institutions, the erosion of the law-abiding state by intensifying regulations and the unwillingness to bring sacrifices.

"The Roman Empire did not fall because everyone did their duty, but because everyone did nothing beyond their duty," said Jiri Sestak, Senate deputy chairman.

The participants also discussed the role of elites and human rights organisations.

According to constitutional lawyer Jan Kysela, a "frowning" silent majority gained the impression in the past years that they must neither think nor say a number of things. Being labelled "fascists" instead of being subjected to persuasion, such people vote for "a fascist" in elections, Kysela said.

"By saying this, I do not want to say that human rights activists have produced Tomio Okamura. I want to say an excessive pressure [on dissatisfied voters] may lead to trouble," Kysela said, referring to Okamura's anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement, which, together with the Communists (KSCM), has allied with Babis's ANO movement in a number of lower house votes of late.

The Czech constitution was adopted on December 16, 1992. It has been amended eight times since, for example in connection with the establishment of the self-rule regions, the country's entry into NATO and the EU and the introduction of a direct presidential election. The latest amendment from 2013 restricted lawmakers and constitutional court judges' immunity to apply to their term of office only.

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