Protests surge in Czech Republic against soaring cost of living crisis

Even though people across the country are struggling due to the acute cost of living crisis marked by high energy prices, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala accused the protesters of being pro-Russian propagandists

September 06, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Cost of Living Crisis - Czech Republic
Czech communists at a protest in Prague against the cost of living crisis. (Photo: via KSCM)

On Saturday, September 3, tens of thousands of protesters participated in a mobilization at Wenceslas Square in Czech capital Prague against the government’s inability to tackle the acute cost of living crisis. The protesters accused the center-right coalition government of prioritizing the arming of Ukraine over addressing the problems of Czech citizens. They also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Petr Fiala. On September 2, the Czech government faced and survived a no-confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies, proposed by the opposition parties.

Leaders and activists from opposition parties including the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) participated in the mobilization.

Due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and sanctions imposed by the European Union and the US on Russian gas exports to Europe, energy prices have skyrocketed across Europe resulting in an acute cost of living crisis. Working class sections across Europe, including in the UK, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Albania, and other countries, have already organized several mobilizations and protests demanding their governments tackle the crisis by raising wages to match the soaring inflation and introduce a cap on energy prices. In the Czech Republic, working class sections and opposition political parties have criticized the government for not taking any effective measures to control the skyrocketing fuel and food prices. According to reports, inflation in the country is likely to soon touch 20%.

The Czech government, which is reportedly aiding the Ukrainian defense against Russia, has called the protesters provocateurs and pro-Russian propagandists. While maintaining reservations about participants from certain right-wing opposition parties in Saturday’s protest, KSCM leader Katerina Konecna, also a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), slammed the malicious slander by the government against the protesters. 

On Monday, September 5, KSCM stated that “Czech communists have long been concerned about the behavior of the Prime Minister, which culminated in publicly expressed contempt for the citizens of the Czech Republic, who on Saturday, September 3, 2022, came to express their opposition to a number of steps taken by the government, because members of the government are increasingly showing that the citizen of their country is not in the first place for them. The people who filled Prague’s Wenceslas Square made it clear by their participation that the current right-wing government threatens their dignified life and is unacceptable to them.”

The KSCM has reiterated its demand for a peaceful solution to the situation in Ukraine and demanded the termination of all military operations that are contrary to international law. The party also called for another major mobilization against the government on September 17 in Prague. 

The Communist Youth League (KSM) stated that “the protest was an expression of discontent with the consequences of the crisis and war brought by the policy of the ruling class in cooperation and programmatic submission to foreign monopoly imperialist structures – the European Union and NATO. This is felt very tangible in the immediate life.”

The paradoxical situation is that domestic sources of electricity (mostly constructed or planned by the socialist state) are sufficient for the country’s needs and yet the overwhelmingly rising price of electricity stems from the attitudes of speculators on the German stock exchange and the official policy was to divert from domestic heat and energy to the imported one,” added KSM.

In January this year, Czech communists and the Czech Peace Movement (CMH) organized a major mobilization against the government’s decision to provide Ukraine with armaments and support NATO’s maneuvers.