30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution

The Czech Republic and Slovakia celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which began on 17 November 1989. The celebrations also saw mass demonstrations in Prague, where 250,000 people protested against the threat to democracy which they believe the political elites pose. Europe's press takes a closer look at how the Czech Republic is faring today.

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Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

A bitter-sweet anniversary

Prime Minister Babiš's policies are jeopardising the achievements of 1989, comments Hospodářské noviny:

“A significant part of society sees freedom and democracy increasingly threatened and is therefore demanding that the legacy of 17 November be defended. At the same time, according to the polls most Czechs are satisfied with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's policies. ... Babiš voiced regret about his communist past in a speech and promised to preserve freedom and democracy and work for everyone. But the Prime Minister's statements don't always tally with the truth. The mass demonstration just before 17 November was a confirmation of the distrust of his concept of politics, which is linked to a de facto disregard for democratic institutions.”

Večer (SI) /

Protests rubbing salt in the wound

Večer doesn't find the protests surprising:

“The Czech Republic and Slovakia were also pushed into unfettered casino capitalism after the removal of the communists from power. The protests against the governments in Prague and Bratislava prove that the inhabitants of the two NATO and EU members feel this even though they aren't going through a major economic crisis. It's no coincidence that the demonstrations are taking place on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Because in the thirty years of unbridled deregulation since the Velvet Revolution only a handful of people have been smart enough to accumulate great wealth.The rest of the population were left to make ends meet. Simply surviving from one day to the next is tied up with constant uncertainties and fears.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

This is the democracy we wanted

For Mladá fronta dnes the anniversary was a comparatively happy one:

“These celebrations of November 17 were neither right nor wrong. The plurality of views about how the day marking the fight for freedom and democracy should be celebrated is fundamental. This is no more and no less than the democracy we wanted 30 years ago. From that point of view the anniversary celebrations were perfectly normal. No violence like that of the French yellow vests, no insulting opponents, no burning cars or protesters going on the rampage. And at the end - unlike last year - the floral arrangements of unpopular politicians didn't end up in a rubbish bin.”