Czechs Fear Autocratic Contagion of Coronavirus

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Orban's seizure of rule by decree without an expiration date on March 30 raised fears that the EU now has a virtual dictatorship in its midst. 

Meanwhile, Orban's conservative-nationalist ideological brethren in Poland, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, is accused of seeking to use the crisis to maintain its grip on power by forcing presidential elections to go ahead in May despite the country's lockdown.

In the Czech Republic, a report submitted to the government by the ministry of defence on March 30 provoked fears that Babis, a billionaire populist whose centrist Ano party leads a minority coalition, could be trying something similar. 

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (left) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attend a press conference during a Visegrad Group summit in Prague, Czech Republic, 4 March 2020. The extraordinary summit focused on the coronavirus outbreak in Europe. Photo: EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK


Noted for his low profile through the crisis to that point, Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar — a former member of a radical pro-Russian group — proposed in the report that the prime minister should take over full control of the country should parliament and the government be indisposed.

"It caught our attention because of the events in Hungary, which have emotions running high," Vojtech Pikal, a Pirate Party deputy chairman of the Chamber of Deputies lower house of parliament, told BIRN.

"It's a legitimate concern because we have no mechanism to fall back on if parliament cannot be convened. But we don't agree it can be simply bypassed."

With Metnar...

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