The Freeland File
Global Market Data
Tales from the Trail
Lucy P. Marcus
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Jack & Suzy Welch
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Photos of the week
Our top photos from the past week. Full Article
Images of March
Search resumes in high-profile New York missing child case
China military warns of confrontation over seas
Analysis: Did U.S. fumble chance to peer inside China's secretive leadership?
Veteran Utah senator appears set to survive Tea Party challenge
French voters disillusioned on eve of election day
Trayvon Martin’s killer showed signs of injury: neighbors
Scandal mars Obama’s wooing of Latin America
Nugent says had ”solid” meeting with Secret Service
Bull on bull in South Korean sport
Fri, Apr 20 2012
IMF gets $400 billion commitment
Fri, Apr 20 2012
Repaired A380 set for takeoff
Our day's top images, in-depth photo essays and offbeat slices of life. See the best of Reuters photography. See more | Photo caption
Weird world records
From who can wear the most bees to who can unicycle the longest. Slideshow
Protests in Bahrain
Anti-government demonstrations continue in Bahrain. Slideshow
Czechs in mass march against austerity as government wobbles
Czech PM sees snap election if majority lost
Wed, Apr 18 2012
Czech government seeks majority after new crisis
Wed, Apr 18 2012
Angry Spaniards strike against labor reform
Thu, Mar 29 2012
Analysis & Opinion
Essential reading: Americans overseas balk at taxes, trickle-down taxation, more
Spain’s fiscal amnesty sends wrong message
By Jason Hovet
Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:19am EDT
PRAGUE (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Czechs on Saturday staged one of the biggest protests since the fall of communism, marching in Prague against spending cuts, tax rises and corruption and calling for the end of a centre-right government already close to collapse.
Police estimated that 80-90,000 workers, students and pensioners snaked through the capital to rally in Wenceslas Square. Chanting and whistling, the crowd held banners proclaiming "Away with the government" and "Stop thieves".
Rallies of such a scale are rare in the country of 10.5 million people.
The demonstration against Prime Minister Petr Necas's government is the third such trade union-led protest in 12 months against austerity measures, and the turnout underscored rising public frustration after a series of graft scandals.
"This government is devastating state structures and is demeaning the unprotected with its asocial reforms," Jaroslav Zavadil, the head of the Confederation of Trade Unions, told the crowd.
The protest comes as the government is working to reaffirm its majority in parliament ahead of a Monday deadline.
The turmoil was triggered by the defection of Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake and her allies from the scandal-ridden junior ruling party Public Affairs.
Peake has pledged her faction will continue to support the cabinet, but on Saturday it remained uncertain whether she could muster the 10 votes the government needs for the "safe majority" that Necas wants from her to avoid early elections.
An early election, two years after the last vote, would be likely to hand power to the opposition Social Democrats, who have a nearly 20 point poll lead over Necas's Civic Democrats.
The Social Democrats have pledged to undo some of the government's reforms of the pensions, healthcare and welfare sectors, and to tax companies and the rich to keep the budget under control.
"The reforms are not thought-out. The reforms are chaotic," party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said before marching on Saturday.
"It is essential that at this moment, Necas's government, which lost legitimacy with the breakup of Public Affairs, hand in its resignation and open the way to new elections."
Public Affairs has been riven by infighting and influential leader, Vit Barta, was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence this month for bribing party colleagues to stay loyal.
A March survey by the Public Opinion Research Centre (CVVM) found that people think official corruption is worst among political parties and in government ministries. The issue, along with the nature of reforms, is why many people took to the streets.
"Corruption is quite bad and they are fighting it very little," said a protester, 30-year-old toolmaker Jaromir Tobias.
"I agree with some of the reforms, but not with how they are explaining it and feeding it to the public. Reforms are necessary but not in this style."
The government survived another crisis earlier this month by agreeing to new hikes in sales and income tax as well as spending cuts worth 57 billion crowns ($3.02 billion) next year.
It says the measures are necessary to bring the deficit below 3 percent of gross domestic product in order to meet EU budget rules.
Unions said on Thursday the measures would cost the average wage earner 11,230 crowns a year - the gross average salary in the Czech Republic is 26,067 crowns ($1,400) a month.
With debate growing in Europe about how effective austerity measures are at reviving debt-choked economies, the Czechs are well-placed with a state debt load about half the European Union average, at 41.2 percent of annual economic output.
However, austerity and reform have hit domestic consumption, and unemployment hovers at around 8.9 percent. The $202 billion economy fell into a mild recession last year despite a record year for exports.
($1 = 18.8814 Czech crowns)
(Editing by Andrew Osborn)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.