UPDATE: Prague city hall elects new mayor amid protests

30. 11. 2010 14:27
Protestors expect "grand" left-right coalition to preserve unpopular status quo in Prague
Protestors inside the city hall. The sign on the left says: "Maybe you got it wrong: We did not vote you for this"
Protestors inside the city hall. The sign on the left says: "Maybe you got it wrong: We did not vote you for this" | Foto: Jan Langer

Prague - UPDATE: In spite of the protests both inside and outside of the Prague city hall, the constitutive meeting managed to elect Prague mayor and his deputies later in the evening. Bohuslav Svoboda from the right-wing ODS, the largest government party, is the new Prague mayor.

Below is the original article.

Europe is currently going through what can easily be described as a „hot autumn", with people expressing their rage at politicians in the streets - from London, to Dublin, Paris and other cities.

Most recently, even local politicians in the Czech capital, far from being used to popular protests, have had to face public rage.

Today, the constitutive meeting of Prague's city hall, during which a new mayor is supposed to be elected, was disrupted several times by tens of shouting protesters in the hall where the meeting is taking place, backed by hundreds of people that gathered in the Maránské square, the seat of the city hall.

The protest is aimed against the new coalition for Prague's city hall, which came from the mid-October local polls.

Read more: Czech local elections deliver blow to austerity reforms

The new coalition consists of the left-wing Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) - two largest parties of the Czech Republic known as very fierce rivals on the national level. Currently, the ODS heads the center-right coalition government, while the CSSD is the main opposition party.  

Read more: After election:Czechs to become Europe's reform leaders

Many Prague's voters feel cheated. Not only because both parties repeatedly ruled out the possibility of "grand coalition" during the electoral campaign. But above all because the poll in Prague was won by the conservative TOP 09, a political newbie and a minor member of the ruling coalition, so the grand coalition actually consists of electoral losers. 

TOP 09 enjoys strong popularity in the capital, and its electoral campaign for the local polls can be summed up by Obama's "time for a change".

Namely, a change in the Prague city hall, which has been lately criticized for some costly public projects and alleged corruption.

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Read more: Aiming high: Ex-central banker runs for Prague mayor

The protestors were angry at both ODS and CSSD, expecting that their coalition will hamper any departure from the criticized past policies of the city hall.

Former Czechoslovak and Czech president Vaclav Havel was in the town hall too. Although he did not take part in the vocal protests, he said he is on the side of the protestors. "I am not indifferent to how is Prague developing," Havel said to Aktualne.cz.

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