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What's going on in Prague?

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

On my way to the airport, I quickly check the news to see if anything new and interesting was going on before I make my way to the city of 100 spires.

CNN: ‘Prague protests: Biggest demonstration since fall of Communism’

Oh wow, so I guess that’s a yes then.

I read on and find out that a quarter of a million people took to the street last month to force Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to step down. Why? In short, corruption and abuse of power. And you’re not really supposed to do either as a Prime Minster. In Prague, I can’t help but ask around and what it comes down to this:

Babiš was accused of fraud related to EU agriculture subsidies in an audit report issued by the EU Commission. More specifically, he is accused of illegally attaining €2 mln in EU subsidies by separating a farm (“The Stork’s Nest”) from Agrofert – a conglomerate that Babiš founded - and then putting this money back into the holding. This is bad and all but that’s what the judicial system is for and it worked. The police investigated the matter and Babiš was expected to face criminal charges. However, in May he replaced the Minister of Justice with an ally in order to – critics claim – to interfere with the process. The Czech were not having that. On the 4th of June approximately 120.000 people demonstrated in Prague, followed by 250.000 on June 23rd.

So what’s the effect? What happens now? These are questions I hotheadedly throw at the first few Czechs I speak to. Well, they're in a bit of a pickle. You see, it doesn’t seem that there is an alternative to a government lead by Babiš at the moment. An opinion poll* in June 2019 showed that his party (ANO) would get 29% of the votes which is far from a majority but the runner-up only scores 17% in the ratings and with the Czech election threshold of 5% (= minimum percentage of votes a party must get to obtain seats in the parliament) there is only a handful of parties to form a coalition with.

According to the Czechs I spoke to, there will be another demonstration next month but no one knows where it will go from there. Keep you posted!

Author: Lotte Cloostermans

* Aktuálně, 2019 (


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