Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Respekt: Babiš plunges Czech politics into chaos, challenges rules

ČTK |
6 March 2018

Prague, March 5 (CTK) - The until recently widely accepted facts that the Czech Republic is closely connected with West Europe and that the totalitarian Communist Party (KSCM) is unacceptable, have been challenged due to Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), Erik Tabery wrote in weekly Respekt out on Monday.

He says this leads to a feeling of chaos and disintegration of values, although there is no external threat and nobody from outside is ordering the country what to do.

"Czech society and politics are changing in an ever increasing pace," Tabery writes, adding that the changes are for the worse and that the developments of last week illustrate this well.

Last week, the ANO movement, the Communists and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) joined forces in parliament to support in first reading a bill that retroactively imposes taxation on the financial compensation that Czech churches have been receiving from the state for property that the communist authorities had taken away from them and that was not returned to them.

Also last week, journalist Petr Zantovsky, known for spreading disinformation and sharp criticism of public media, was elected to the council monitoring the work of the CTK news agency, the prosecuted Babis intimidated General Inspection of Security Corps (GIBS) head Michal Murin, and KSCM MP Zdenek Ondracek, former communist riot policeman who had beaten participants in calm street protests against the regime in 1989, was elected head of the parliament commission supervising the GIBS, Tabery writes.

Apart from this, detectives caught a Czech man who tried to derail two trains and make it look like a crime committed by Muslim radicals. On the TV Barrandov commercial station, its owner Jaromir Soukup repeatedly claimed that the public Czech Television (CT) and Czech Radio (CRo) are corrupt media. MP Vaclav Klaus Jr (opposition Civic Democrats, ODS) told the radio he considers the undemocratic European Union a far bigger threat than the distant Russia. New Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Jan Hamacek said the Communists are not a bad party, Tabery writes when listing last week's events.

The situation seems rather hopeless and chaotic also because there is no strong opposition against the obvious alliance of Babis, SPD leader Tomio Okamura, the re-elected President Milos Zeman and media magnate Soukup. There is not even a clear political voice that would be strong and convincing enough to compete with their alliance, Tabery writes.

"This is one of the reasons why Babis's clan turns its attention to the media. The media are in fact the last stronghold that makes it harder for them to extend their power and influence," Tabery says.

When Zeman recently listed his "enemies" for TV Barrandov, the list did not comprise anybody else than journalists anymore. Soukup's attacks against the media that do not support the clan may seem ridiculous, but Soukup realised that if he kept repeating the criticism of public media on and on, people would gradually start losing trust in them, Tabery writes.

It is apparent that the coalition of "the outraged" feels stronger and stronger. The president, government and a majority in the lower house of parliament are on its side. Who can compete with the outraged?

If the clan manages to gain control over the public media or at least weaken them, almost nothing can challenge its power. No concessions can be therefore made. Those who decide to face this propaganda system must be ready to receive a number of blows, Tabery writes.

"All this is the work of Andrej Babis. All hide behind him like small fish waiting behind a shark for the possible remains of his prey," he says.

Babis pretends not to understand why the extremist KSCM and SPD want to cooperate with him and the other parties refuse it. However, the answer is simple: the extremists care for neither values nor programme, they lust for influence. They sponge on the system, they are satisfied even with a little bit because any step forward means a precious victory for them, Tabery writes.

If they fall out with ANO and Babis rejects them, they will not mind it because Babis has already opened the gate that remained closed for them for nearly 30 years. The extremists have actually already achieved their goal, Tabery says.

On the other hand, traditional parties depend on something else - on trust. Coalition governments are always made of groupings that are incompatible in some aspects. To be able to cooperate, the coalition partners need to feel sure that all the participants agree on the fundamental goals and the means of achieving them. This is the only way they can win the trust of their voters.

The more time passes from the autumn general election that ANO clearly won, the less of this trust in Babis one may have. For the whole of his life, Babis has been a trader focusing only on his own high profit and his political career follows this line, Tabery writes.

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor is not responsible for its content.