Thursday, 17 April 2014

Právo: Low-income Czechs resent gov't tackling crisis at their cost

27 February 2013

Prague, Feb 26 (CTK) - It is no wonder that more and more Czechs feel nostalgic for the pre-1989 regime in a situation where the right-wing government tackles the economic crisis exclusively at the cost of low-income people, Antonin Rasek writes in daily Pravo yesterday in reaction to a fresh opinion poll.

The share of Czechs who consider the present regime worse than the past one has reached 32 percent earlier this year. Even people with high education, better financially secured and politically centre- and right-oriented are starting to be critical, Rasek writes.

After World War Two, the experience from the war and the pre-war economic crisis made many Czechs believe in the communist-controlled system of socialism and it took them long to give up their dream, or rather a delusion. They believed communism was a good idea but that hostile forces prevented its proper implementation, Rasek writes.

Similarly, most Czechs believed in democracy while rejoicing at the communist regime's collapse in late 1989, but now many of them have got fed up with the Czech form of democracy, Rasek writes.

Not that people would abandon their belief in democracy. Compared with communism, the democratic system has proved itself, mainly in the form of a welfare state known from the Scandinavian countries, Australia and New Zealand, Rasek continues.

However, in the eyes of Czechs the image of democracy has been heavily spoiled by the Czech political scene's failures and the government's [poor] performance, he points out.

In a situation where the right-wing cabinet of Petr Necas is trusted by only one in ten Czechs, it is no wonder that people compare the present system with the pre-1989 one and that more and more of them find the latter better, Rasek writes.

An economic crisis is not easy to overcome, but it must not be done unilaterally at the cost of the low-income group. This fatally undermines people's relation not only to the government but also to the present [democratic] system. It also led to former socialist PM Milos Zeman's victory in the Czech direct presidential polls in January. Zeman's rival, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), tried hard to present his social-friendly stands, but as a member of the unpopular Necas cabinet he had no chance to succeed, Rasek writes.

The [government's] across-the-board anti-communist rhetoric that disrespects people's differing views on the past regime has been a failure. Most Czechs are critical of the 1950s and the 1970-80s (periods of hardline communist rule), but they assess the 1960s (period of promising reforms) better than the present regime, Rasek writes.

The Czechs now seem to be returning to the idea of a state they longed for during the 1989 "Velvet Revolution," i.e. a regime following up the 1960s one. In 1989, they evidently did not wish the type of state into which the Czech Republic developed after the controversial coupon privatisation that the then prime minister Vaclav Klaus masterminded in the mid-1990s.

From another angle of view, the communist state annoyed people by forcing them "voluntarily" attend various meetings celebrating the regime. The present state, on its part, annoys people with the previously unseen bureaucracy where everything depends on the willingness of clerks, Rasek writes.

True, people always tend to view the past in a better than real light, he admits.

What is the way out of the present situation? No return is definitely desirable, the world is different now. Seeking a third path would be problematic as well, Rasek says.

Czechs should seek an example in Scandinavia and on the southeast hemisphere, but they should not expect politicians to launch any action in this respect. It always took Czechs long to take a radical step which the political scene finally could not but respect, Rasek concludes.

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