Czech PM on 17 November: A democratic state must have a strong social welfare dimension
Yesterday morning people began bringing candles and flowers to the memorial to 17 November 1989 on Národní třída in Prague. Some of the first to arrive were Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, the chair of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, head of the ANO movement, and the chair of the Senate, Milan Štěch (ČSSD).
"It is important that we tend to our democracy and freedom, that we solicit support for both, which is not always easy," Sobotka told journalists. He went on to say that he believes many people are not well off in the country and are therefore upset with the democratic order.
If support for democracy and freedom are to be maintained, the PM believes it is important for a democratic state to have a strong social welfare dimension. He was also accompanied by Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, Czech Trade and Industry Minister Jan Mládek, and the vice-chair of the ČSSD, Martin Starec.
Sobotka said that in his assessment, the democratic system has not yet met all of the expectations of November 1989. "Despite that, I believe it was the correct decision," he added.
Babiš called democracy and freedom the very highest values. "I do not believe freedom and democracy have been endangered, as some are attempting to convince people of so they can create a bad mood here," he told the press.
The Finance Minister emphasized that people are able to vote for their representatives in Parliament, as well as for the President. "We should mainly be fighting for a good mood, society should come together," he said.
Babiš also said he does not believe the present moment is one where people have to demonstrate on the public square in order to change the Government or the President. He was accompanied by Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnický, Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán, Czech Regional Development Minister Karla Šlechtová and Mayor of Prague Adriana Krnáčová.
A man also stood near the memorial holding a sign against today's politicians. The sign read that he was "disgusted" by politicians, including the President, and by "his lapdog, press spokesperson Ovčáček".
On 17 November 1989, what were then the communist regime's police forces intervened against a student march on Národní třída. The incident started what is usually referred to as the Velvet Revolution, which resulted in the fall of state socialism in what was then Czechoslovakia.
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