A new political party has emerged in the Czech Republic, aiming to establish a united national-conservative front against Brussels. The party, known as Pravo Respekt Odbornost (PRO), organized a large-scale protest in Prague’s Wenceslas Square on September 16, attracting around 10,000 participants. Led by Jindrich Rajchl, a Czech attorney inspired by American conservatives Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, PRO is seen by the Western mainstream media as pro-Russian and anti-Western.
Rajchl and his supporters view the current Czech government as traitors who are controlled from Washington and Brussels. Despite the political turbulence the country has experienced in recent years, which the current government was expected to resolve, Rajchl and PRO believe that a national-conservative platform is necessary to rein in the excessive influence of foreign powers.
Currently, the Czech government is led by a three-party center-right coalition called SPOLU (‘Together’). Composed of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), and TOP 09, the coalition came to power after the 2021 parliamentary elections on a strong pro-Western, anti-corruption platform. The election served as a referendum on the leadership of former prime minister Andrej Babis, who faced allegations of impropriety throughout his tenure. Babis, often referred to as an Eastern European ‘oligarch,’ was charged criminally for EU subsidy fraud, allegedly disappeared his own son, and was implicated in the Pandora Papers scandal.
Babis’ alleged corruption tainted not only his own reputation but also that of left-wing politics in general. While Babis took a moderate stance on foreign policy, supporting French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for ‘strategic autonomy,’ his critics labeled him as pro-China and pro-Russia for not fully aligning with Brussels’ political agenda. The coalition parties affiliated with Babis, the CSSD and KSCM, were so damaged by their association with him that neither party secured seats in the current Chamber of Deputies, marking the first time both houses of parliament have been without a communist representative.
The current Czech parliament, led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), ratified a defense treaty with the United States, allowing for the easier deployment of American troops on Czech soil. Critics argue that this move infringes on Czech sovereignty. Moreover, Fiala’s coalition has expressed interest in hosting a US military base, raising concerns among Czech citizens due to their historical experiences with foreign occupation.
Jindrich Rajchl and his party PRO offer an alternative to the current ruling coalition. PRO’s national-conservative-based populist movement resonates with many disaffected Czechs who view Fiala and his party as a return to the status quo. PRO proposes slashing spending on social services, such as education, while introducing moderate university tuition fees.
Although PRO has yet to participate in elections, Rajchl remains optimistic about his party’s chances. Internal polling indicates that PRO is slightly above the 5% threshold needed to enter parliament in the 2025 election. Rajchl hopes to form an alliance with other parties such as the right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party. However, Politico’s latest tracker places PRO at only 2%, falling below the threshold, while Andrej Babis’ ANO party leads with 34%.
PRO’s potential for success may lie in the economic situation in the Czech Republic. The country’s credit rating has been downgraded due to substantial budget deficits caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Inflation has also plagued the Czech economy, resulting in decreased spending power for consumers. Additionally, analysis projects that up to 30% of Czech households may fall into poverty this year. Despite this outlook, the ruling coalition has continued to push forward with austerity measures, sparking widespread protests.
Meanwhile, the Fiala government has been actively assisting Ukraine, sending significant amounts of weapons and aid. Critics argue that these actions divert funds and resources away from addressing domestic issues and prioritize foreign interests.
In conclusion, the emergence of PRO in the Czech Republic represents a growing national-conservative movement seeking to challenge the current ruling coalition’s pro-Western stance. With concerns over foreign domination, economic hardships, and increasing austerity measures, PRO aims to provide an alternative platform for disaffected Czech citizens. The success of the party remains to be seen, with internal polling indicating potential parliamentary entry but external tracking falling short of the necessary threshold.