Prague - The Czech political elite is again "surfing on the wave on populism" by challenging the church restitution law, Martin Zverina writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.
Předseda hnutí ANO Andrej Babiš (uprostřed) představil 24. července na tiskové konferenci v Praze kandidáty do podzimních komunálních voleb. Na snímku jsou (zleva) Michal Hašek, Petr Novotný, Adriana Krnáčová, Andrej Babiš, Martina Schopperová, Eliška Kaplicky a Patrik Nacher. ČTK Doležal Michal
He comments on the failed attempt of the opposition Communists (KSCM) and Dawn of Direct Democracy to convoke a special session of the Chamber of Deputies to deal with the process of returning the churches´ property confiscated by the communist regime.
Some politicians use the church restitution issue in a similar way as their predecessors used the alleged threat of Sudeten Germans´ property claims ten and more years ago, Zverina writes, recalling that primarily then president Vaclav Klaus warned of it in connection with the Czech Republic´s EU entry.
Though in the past this agenda might help politicians increase their popularity, these times are over. Now the "Sudeten danger" is a dead political topic, Zverina points out.
The church restitution highlighted by the left-wing and populists may fade away with time, too, after it becomes apparent that the state-churches property settlement has also positive sides even for "anti-clerical proponents," Zverina says.
The anti-church slogans that the current senior government Social Democrats (CSSD) have used on their election billboards are still efficient props, but Klaus´s example is warning, Zverina concludes.
The nomination of Andrew Schapiro, a respected lawyer with a Czech-born mother, for new U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, is good news for Czechs for several reasons, Daniel Anyz writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.
First, the situation from 2009-2010 when the U.S. Senate delayed the appointment of Norman Eisen will not repeat, Anyz says, adding that the absence of U.S. ambassador in Prague was then perceived as a symbolical expression of the Czech Republic´s importance for Barack Obama´s administration.
In view of this symbolism, another positive piece of news is that now it seems that Washington regards Prague as a really significant diplomatic destination, Anyz notes.
Last but not least, Schapiro is a candidate of high qualities though he is not a career diplomat, but a political nominee. In addition, his family history has predestined him for Prague, Anyz writes.
"After Norman Eisen, another ambassador who stands close to the top levels of Obama´s team and at the same time has Central European roots arrives in Prague. Now it is up to Prague to manage to use it in the best possible way," Anyz concludes.
Billionaire businessman and ANO chairman Andrej Babis is fulfilling the late president Vaclav Havel´s dream about an active civic society that does not hesitate to knuckle down to politics, Petr Fischer writes elsewhere in Hospodarske noviny (HN) with irony.
Through Babis´s ANO movement, politics is becoming a common occupation that really everyone can do, at least everyone who is publicly known, that is a journalist, a factory director, an actor or an activist from an NGO, Fischer writes, referring to ANO´s leading candidates for the autumn local elections in Prague, headed by businesswoman and activist Martina Schopperova.
"Babis´s project of a new populist movement solving people´s problems and not politics is about to be crowned. With time all well-known faces will be in the party for all voters that wants to gain all votes. It will be such a beautiful political block, one solid piece of totalitarian granite on which all kinds of solid things can be built," Fischer writes.