Czechs rally en masse against Babiš
This past weekend saw the biggest protest rally in the Czech Republic since the Velvet Revolution 30 years ago. Weeks of mass protests against Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš over a corruption scandal culminated on Sunday in a mass demonstration in Prague. Organisers say 250,000 people took part. Commentators are with them all they way.
La Repubblica celebrates the protests:
“We haven't seen such protests since the demonstrations 30 years ago in Prague when the youths of the Velvet Revolution - defying the truncheons and water cannons - took to the streets in support of dissident leader Václav Havel and the old communist reformer Alexander Dubček. Before 1989 it was in August 1968 that young girls and boys demonstrated for socialism with a human face and were crushed by Russian tanks. Yesterday the Czechs rediscovered politics and recaptured their capital. ... The Prague wind promises to infect all of central Europe where civil society is less and less willing to tolerate the overwhelming power of the autocrats.”
Babiš wants Hungary-style Czech Republic
Sme also shows understanding for the demonstrators:
“Andrej Babiš is dragging his country in the direction of the Viktor Orbán open-air museum named Hungary in which corruption has been raised to the level of a state doctrine. However a quarter of a million people made it clear on Sunday that even if you win an election you can't just do as you please. Thirty years after the Velvet Revolution the people have once again set aside their indifference, powerlessness, and the feeling that justice is no more than a word and state power is inviolable. Even Andrej Babiš can't ignore their message forever.”
Provisionally stepping down the right thing to do
Babiš should relinquish public office until all charges against him have been cleared, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recommends:
“This is a matter of common decency and a way of showing respect for the judiciary and the people. If he really is innocent he can come back when things have blown over - he certainly has the means to do so. The fact is, however, that there have been serious doubts about his personal integrity ever since he went into politics. Nevertheless he was elected. The real mystery is why so many people are willing to excuse any and every blemish on such a man's record.”
Who has more staying power?
The trial of strength between the people on the streets and the prime minister is far from over, Právo suspects:
“If Babiš can remain in his post longer than the demonstrators' enthusiasm lasts, he will have won. It's still two years until the next elections. The organisers of the protests will have trouble keeping the demonstrators interested for that long. The summer holidays are just around the corner for a start. But the demonstrators should at least pay special attention to the upcoming anniversaries. At the very least on the anniversaries of the Prague Spring, Czech Independence Day at the end of October and the Velvet Revolution, Sunday's protests should be continued in a big way.”