Mass protests in the Czech Republic, attended by about 70,000 people on Saturday, dissatisfied with government policies and rising energy prices, show what Germany can expect in the near future, writes the German newspaper Die Welt. Various groups in Germany are also calling for protests against high electricity prices and are mobilizing for a “hot autumn” that could unite left and right.
On Saturday, the Czech Republic experienced what Germany has yet to face: tens of thousands of people in Prague demonstrated against rising energy prices and the Czech government, German newspaper Die Welt reported. Right-wing extremist parties and the Communist Party called for the rally to be held.
According to police, around 70,000 people gathered in the central Wenceslas Square to demonstrate under the slogan “Czech Republic First”, protesting inflation caused by the energy crisis, coronavirus vaccinations and accepting migrants.
Demonstrators demanded the resignation of the centre-right government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala, which has only been in power since December. “The best for the Ukrainians, and two sweaters for us,” read one of the banners. Thus, the citizens accused the government of supporting Ukraine with sanctions against Russia, but not helping the Czechs, who suffered because of the sharp increase in heating prices.
According to Fiala, Saturday’s demonstration was organized by “pro-Russian people close to extremist positions” whose interests conflict with those of the Czech Republic. “Obviously, Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns are taking place on our territory, and some people are just listening to them,” the head of the Czech government said.
Energy prices are now rising across Europe as the EU buys significantly less natural gas from Russia due to the military action in Ukraine. In Germany, various groups are also calling for protest demonstrations. The “Verdi” union has threatened to protest because of high electricity prices. The Left Party and AdG are mobilizing forces for a “hot autumn”.
The representative of the Left Party in the east of the country, Leipzig MP Sören Pellmann, announced a demonstration on Monday in Leipzig under the motto “Hot autumn instead of shivering in fear”. The far-right Free Saxons plan to join the left’s protest and hold their own rally.
In turn, the leaders of the AdG party Tino Hrupala and Alisa Weidel want to present the corresponding campaign next week. The motto: “Hot autumn, instead of trembling with fear” is complemented by the slogan “Our country first!”, writes Die Welt. According to the publication, this motto is reminiscent of Donald Trump’s political slogan: “America First.”
Defenders of the constitution have already expressed fears that in Germany, as in the Czech Republic, right-wing and left-wing groups could take to the streets together. “In comparison, what we experienced during the coronavirus pandemic will be more like a child’s birthday,” said Stefan Kramer, president of Thuringia’s Office for Constitutional Protection. Federal Home Affairs Minister Nancy Feder fears the demonstrations will be used by extremists and urges no such merger.
The Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU presidency, has taken in around 400,000 military refugees from Ukraine and supplies the country with military goods and humanitarian aid on a significant scale, the German newspaper recalled. On Friday, Fiala’s government survived a no-confidence vote in parliament requested by former prime minister Andrej Babis’ populist ANO party and the far-right party, according to Die Welt.