Credit: KK BD

Over 60% of Czechs Fear Losing Their Freedoms, Says Poll

The date of 17 November has been very significant twice in Czech history. Credit: KK/BD.

Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) – More than 60% of Czechs fear they will lose their freedoms in the future, according to a survey conducted by STEM/MARK for the Festival of Freedom, a group that annually organises the largest events commemorating 17 November. Meanwhile, about one in four respondents think they are already living under oppression. 

A total of 511 respondents aged between 15 and 64 took part in the survey, Marek Cieslar, spokesman for the Festival of Freedom, told CTK today.

The date of 17 November has been very significant twice in Czech history. First, as the day in 1939 when the Nazis brutally cracked down on university students, and half a century later, when a meeting to honour their memory led to protests against the communist regime and eventually to the return of democracy.

As a result, 17 November is now probably the only national holiday that Czech people spontaneously celebrate in the streets.

“The results show that the freedoms gained during the revolution are important to citizens,” said Jan Gregar, chairman of the board of the Festival of Freedom. “At the same time, freedom of speech or freedom to elect political representatives is more important than freedom to travel or own property. We evaluate this very positively.” Nonetheless, he considers it as a “warning sign” that more than 60% of people are concerned about future restrictions on freedoms and that a quarter feel they are already living in an unfree society.

Freedom to vote is considered very important by 69% of people, while freedom of speech is rated as very important by 68% and freedom to travel by 64% of respondents. Almost 72% of respondents ranked the freedom to choose a profession as very important.

The survey also asked how people perceive 17 November, and what they expect from it. Around 16% of respondents did not know what happened on 17 November 1989. Around two-fifths of citizens expect 17 November to trigger a discussion about the present and the future, over 31% expect a commemoration of history, and 29% expect acts of remembrance .

Almost half of the respondents do not consider themselves active in civil society. On the day of the holiday, 17 November, two-thirds of respondents do nothing special, 12% mark it at home or at commemorative events, and about 7% would go to a commemorative event if there was one near their home.

As traditional, the Festival of Freedom will offer performances on 17 November on Narodni in the centre of Prague, a concert on Wenceslas Square, and the awarding of the Memory of the Nation Prize. The organisation includes events held by civic initiatives to commemorate the November events, not only in Prague but also in dozens of other cities.

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