Czech Republic

Consolidated Democracy
DEMOCRACY-PERCENTAGE Democracy Percentage 75.60 100
DEMOCRACY-SCORE Democracy Score 5.54 7
Last Year's Democracy Percentage & Status
76 100 Consolidated Democracy
The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 1 the lowest. The Democracy Score is an average of ratings for the categories tracked in a given year. The Democracy Percentage, introduced in 2020, is a translation of the Democracy Score to the 0-100 scale, where 0 equals least democratic and 100 equals most democratic. See the methodology.

header1 Authors

Albin Sybera

header2 Score changes in 2023

No changes in 2023

header3 Executive Summary

The Czech Republic’s sixteenth cabinet, which won a confidence motion in mid-January 2022, faced an almost immediate new reality in Europe and worldwide with Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in February and the continued targeting of Ukrainian civilian populations and infrastructure throughout the year. This unprecedented situation held important implications for Czechia’s democracy and the state of politics, society, and the economy in 2022 in two key areas.

First, affecting the political sphere, Czechia opened itself to Ukrainian families fleeing the war and provided assistance to refugees as well as financial and military aid to Ukraine in its efforts to withstand Russian attacks. Government policies towards Ukraine were paralleled by strong expressions of solidarity through much of society, be it the civic sector or at the municipal level. This represented an unusually high degree of social and political unity in Czechia’s recent history. Despite some setbacks—including double standards in the treatment of Roma war refugees, waning public support for Ukraine1 in the face of the energy crisis, and dependency on Russian energy—Czechia was able to utilize its European Union (EU) presidency in the second half of the year to boost its democratic image on an international level. This was symbolically visible when Czechia secured a seat on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in May. Czechia’s new international standing was in contrast to its exclusionary migration policies of previous years and ongoing migration-phobia exploited during electoral campaigns, both trends continuing in 2022.

The second major impact of the war in Ukraine was felt in Czechia’s painful restructuring of its energy policies. The country had deepened its reliance on Russian energy imports over the previous decade,2 which put it in a particularly vulnerable position during the first winter of the European energy and inflation crises. Prime Minister Petr Fiala and his cabinet have pushed for gas import diversification, but Czechia, along with Hungary and Slovakia, were exempted from the EU embargo on Russian oil.3 The cabinet has been criticized for the slow deployment of renewable energy, which would decrease Czechia’s dependency on Russian imports and fossil fuels. The cabinet’s failure to duly tax energy companies’ excessive profits in 20224 hints at the strong and advantageous position such companies as ČEZ, EPH, and Sev.En enjoy, not only in the energy market but also in media and politics.

Czech society continued to be exposed to malign propaganda furthering pro-Kremlin narratives about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as energy issues. In the fall, the country experienced protests organized by pro-Kremlin activists, which drew tens of thousands, many of whom were citizens concerned about energy prices and the soaring cost of living. This backlash, in combination with growing anti-establishment and far-right political parties that question democracy in Czechia, are worrying signs for the country’s future democratic development.

Senate and municipal elections were held in September and October. These saw some gains for populist and far-right opposition parties, particularly in resource-starved regions, but the ruling coalition parties maintained a strong presence in larger urban centers. The second round of Senate elections saw low voter turnout and brought about significant gains for center and right-wing parties whose candidates often won against populist ANO party candidates.

Czech public media, under pressure from anti-establishment and populist parties in Parliament in previous years, are on course to be strengthened by new legislation. However, they are also vulnerable to lack of funding. Furthermore, the cabinet has yet to find an effective response to tackling disinformation outlets, including those amplifying Russian war propaganda and other racist narratives. These sources were blocked5 at the request of authorities in February, but a legislative framework for dealing with websites spreading hate and disinformation had yet to be introduced by year’s end.6

On a positive note, Czechia saw a wave of reporting and investigations into the ownership of Kremlin-linked assets in the country as well as business ties with Kremlin-linked companies. This increased public awareness was illustrated by the exit of Czechia’s major investor PPF Group from the Russian market. Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s unprovoked and brutal aggression thus sparked a process of decoupling from Kremlin-linked businesses not seen, perhaps, since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Nevertheless, a number of high-profile corruption scandals, including members of the ruling Mayors and Independents party, showed that, as in previous years, corruption remains the most serious challenge to Czech democracy.7 Other notable cases included Justice Minister Pavel Blažek, who, before his appointment in December 2021, was questioned by police in connection with corruption scandals in Brno. In August 2022, he was accused of meddling with judicial appointments overseeing the Brno investigations. Other cases included President Miloš Zeman’s controversial pardon issued to his employee Miloš Balák, who was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in rigging a public tender. Lastly, former prime minister and opposition leader Andrej Babiš (ANO) stood trial for EU subsidy fraud, set to continue in 2023.

Czechia also continues to struggle with minority rights. Czech Roma face ostracization and prejudice despite some longer-term improvements.8 Most poignantly, compensations for forced sterilization of Romani women were marred by controversies. At the same time, the country’s same-sex marriage bill reentered public debate and politics after the tragic shooting in front of a LGBT+ bar in Bratislava, in neighboring Slovakia. Finally, the Czech Parliament is still reluctant to ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence.

While the current government is dealing with an unprecedented situation domestically and internationally, this should not be used as an excuse to relax democratic standards in judicial or human rights frameworks.

header4 At-A-Glance

In 2022, Czechia saw some halting of the democratic backsliding witnessed in previous years, exemplified by the conflicts of interest of former prime minister Andrej Babiš. Still, Czechia’s well-established democracy came under pressure from domestic and external actors challenging the liberal democratic consensus. This is well seen in electoral processes at the national and local levels; although elections are free and fair, they have become platforms for populist, anti-establishment entities often in concert with disinformation websites disseminating anti-democratic propaganda. The country is coping with a number of unresolved socioeconomic and institutional challenges, such as persistent corruption, media capture, consumer debt crisis, and widening social disparities. These social issues were exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the European energy crisis. Democratic standards in judicial and human rights frameworks are also still recovering from recent years’ backsliding.

National Democratic Governance 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Considers the democratic character of the governmental system; and the independence, effectiveness, and accountability of the legislative and executive branches. 4.755 7.007
  • From the onset of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Prime Minister Petr Fiala and his cabinet consistently criticized the Kremlin’s actions, and the Czech Republic provided some of the greatest per capita assistance to Ukrainians fleeing the violence.
  • Czechia’s prewar high dependency on Russian energy imports, on the other hand, continued to hinder its energy security and transformation to a more climate-oriented economy. The country is exempted from the EU embargo on Russian oil imports while intensively looking for alternative sources of energy. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working in the environmental and energy sectors have pointed out1 that the government so far has been slow to tap the country’s potential in renewable energy.2
  • On the domestic level, Czechia continued to suffer during the year from a host of social issues exacerbated by the energy crisis and soaring inflation.3 These include a persistent personal debt crisis (see “Judicial Framework and Independence”), disparities between regions and major urban centers (see “Local Democratic Governance”), and a housing crisis.4
  • Czechia has been praised by EU member states and the European Commission for its turn at the EU’s rotating presidency, which it assumed on July 1 and passed to Sweden on December 31. Fiala’s cabinet set up a European Affairs Ministry led by Mikuláš Bek, who, together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský, have reshaped the Czech foreign policy agenda since the populist cabinet of former prime minister Andrej Babiš.5
  • Czechia secured a seat on the UN Human Rights Council after a vote at the UN General Assembly in May, and it continued to revive its foreign policy in line with protecting human rights by calling for an international tribunal over crimes committed by the Russian army and security services in Ukraine. In November, the Czech Parliament passed a national resolution calling Russia a terrorist state.6
  • Former PM Babiš’s corruption trial epitomized the proliferation of business and politics in Czechia in recent years. In the highly watched proceedings, Babiš and his former manager Jana Nagyová were accused of EU subsidy fraud amounting to 50 million korunas (CZK). Babiš (ANO) was also his party’s presidential candidate during the year at the height of the trial.7 Both the trial and campaign were ongoing at year’s end.
  • A government no-confidence vote was held on September 1, but Petr Fiala’s cabinet withstood the challenge from the opposition, relying on its comfortable majority in the lower chamber of Parliament.8 Representatives of the leading opposition party, ANO, cited the foreign intelligence head’s contacts with the controversial Mayors party sponsor Michal Redl, but also used the media coverage to divert attention away from Andrej Babiš’s scandals and to criticize the cabinet for mishandling the country’s energy crisis.
  • 1Czech Union of Modern Energy (Svaz moderni energetiky), “Press statement” on the use of renewable resources in Czechia, 02 February 2023,…
  • 2Greater share of renewables in the energy mix would secure faster diversification of energy resources and more affordable energy to citizens particularly exposed to the high energy costs.
  • 3Social issues are frequently exploited by the far-right as well as far-left nationalists, populists, and outright pro-Russian activists (see Civil Society). Their messages resonate with soaring energy and food prices as these continue to lower the living standards of the more vulnerable segments of the population.
  • 4Czech housing has become increasingly more unaffordable for average-lower income residents following favorable conditions for commercial investments into new apartment buildings driving housing prices high in response to high demand. According to the SocioFaktor agency’s research for the Ministry of Labor, in mid 2022 at least 270.000 Czechs including 17.000 children lived in inadequate housing conditions lacking basic needs and further 18.000 were homeless or lived in one-time hostels. Czech Radio “At least 270.000 people are in housing need,” 27 November 2023,…
  • 5Czechia’s international reputation had been tainted by its alignment with Visegrad Four strongman leaders on immigration issues, such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who led an effort to reject the EU refugee quotas following the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015.
  • 6This was an even stronger parliamentary response than the 2021 response to the revelations of Russian special units killing two Czech citizens in an arms depot explosion at Vrbetice in 2014.
  • 7Babiš was acquitted in January 2023, shortly before the first round of the presidential election in which he trailed former Czech Army chief of staff and former Chairman of the NATO military command Petr Pavel, to whom Babiš eventually lost in the runoff vote. The trial is set to be reopened after state prosecutor Jaroslav Saroch filed an appeal in April 2023. Babiš is also investigated in a separate case in France for alleged money laundering.
  • 8“Czech government survives no-confidence vote over energy prices,” Reuters, 2 September 2022,….
Electoral Process 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Examines national executive and legislative elections, the electoral framework, the functioning of multiparty systems, and popular participation in the political process. 6.757 7.007
  • In 2022, Czechia saw elections to the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, with the first round held together with municipal elections on September 23–24. One third of the Senate’s 81 seats were contested, and three candidates were elected in the first round. Turnout was 42.65 percent,1 compared to 36.74 percent in the previous first-round elections in October 2020.2 However, voter turnout in some of the regional electoral districts was notably lower, including Most District in northern Bohemia where turnout was 32.74 percent. The second round was held in October and, as in previous years, was marked by very low turnout of 19.44 percent.
  • The Senate runoff elections featured two opposition candidates, physician Věra Procházková of ANO and first-response worker Eva Chromcová of SPD, in Karlovy Vary District.3 The runoff became a clash between the public’s typical disinterest in politics and the ability of anti-establishment parties to mobilize the electorate.
  • On the opposite end of public attention was the second-round duel over Jihlava District between incumbent Senate President Miloš Vystrčil and ANO party challenger Jana Nagyová, who was backed vociferously by the former prime minister and ANO founder Andrej Babiš. This was by far the most closely watched runoff in the national media, yet voter turnout was only 38.74 percent.4 As such, it was the highest second-round turnout of all the contested districts but still well below half of the eligible electorate. Senate runoffs have long suffered from low turnout, and during post-election debates,5 legislators and political scientists pointed out that populist and anti-establishment politicians attacking the Senate as a redundant institution could be discouraging voters.
  • The center-right SPOLU coalition secured 18 senators and two independents backed by a coalition of two right-wing parties, Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and TOP 09, and the center-right Christian Democrats.6 This gave SPOLU the majority, with 41 seats in the 81-seat Senate. Together with Pirates and Mayors, the five ruling coalition parties combined for 58 senators, with several independent senators also backing the cabinet. This gives Petr Fiala’s cabinet a very strong majority in both chambers of Parliament.
  • In the municipal elections in September, a leader from the parliamentary opposition ANO came in first in 8 of the 13 regional capitals, and the ruling coalition ODS party also recorded gains. The greatest progress was recorded by the far-right and anti-EU Direct Democracy Party (SPD), tripling its overall number of representatives from 161 to 492. SPD also gained representation in the Prague City Assembly for the first time after managing to cross the 5-percent threshold in the local elections. ODS and ANO formed ruling coalitions in nearly half of the cities and towns where the two parties had a chance to rule together. ANO also came in as a surprise runner-up in Prague with nearly 20 percent, followed by Pirate Party (17.73 percent) and Praha Sobě (Prague Together, PS).7
  • The presidential campaign involved 9 candidates after the Interior Ministry’s review resulted in the dismissal of 12 candidates, largely over its inability to verify the 50,000 signatures required to back individual candidates before the November 8 deadline. Some appealed the decision at the Supreme Administrative Court. Interior Minister Vit Rakušan told the media that he would put forth a proposal to amend the presidential electoral law after the elections in January 2023.8
Civil Society 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Assesses the organizational capacity and financial sustainability of the civic sector; the legal and political environment in which it operates; the functioning of trade unions; interest group participation in the policy process; and the threat posed by antidemocratic extremist groups. 6.256 7.007
  • In 2022, a series of far-right protests were organized by the platform “Czechia First.”1 Their initial demonstration on September 4 drew a crowd of 70,0002 and was also attended by far-left speakers and representatives of the pro-Kremlin Czech Communist Party.3 On November 17, several thousand joined in a march to the Czech TV headquarters demanding access to the channel’s live stream, accusing the public broadcaster of alleged bias in favor of Ukraine and the EU.4
  • The pro-democracy platform Million Moments for Democracy organized or co-organized a number of protests in response to these far-right and pro-Russian rallies, including one with an address by Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska and attended by thousands in October.5
  • In November, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) conference coincided with the anniversary of the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution. Students in major university cities occupied faculty buildings in protest of the government’s inaction on climate change.6 The protests culminated in a march on November 17 through the capital Prague, including demonstrations in front of the EPH energy group headquarters, which sparked negative responses from conservative media and energy company representatives.7
  • Charges were pressed against former legislator and TOP 09 politician Dominik Feri over three accounts of rape, revealed by acclaimed journalists Apolena Rychlíková and Jakub Zelenka in a 2021 investigation. Analysts and commentators8 hoped that the trial would prompt authorities to take cases of sexual assault more seriously.9 On the other hand, the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence remained unratified by Czechia in 2022 despite persistent calls from NGOs, women’s rights groups, and other civic platforms.10
  • 1Founders of Czechia First Ladislav Vrabel and Jiri Havel were active in protests against Covid-19 measures at the height of the pandemic as well as in spreading Kremlin propaganda.
  • 2Appeal of the anti-establishment parties and disenfranchisement with the present state of affairs is also documented in some of the surveys released on the November 17 anniversary of the fall of communism in 1989 such as the STEM sociological survey which states that only 19% think that Czech society is heading in the right direction, 49% hesitates to make a judgment 34% think that Czech society is heading in the wrong direction.
  • 3Far-right SPD coordinated some of the protests (such as the one in Ostrava on September 28), but SPD-linked website Novarepublika also criticized Czechia First organizers. Attendance at subsequent demonstrations dropped to lower tens of thousands and several thousands, according to the police estimates. Demonstrations demanded the resignation of Petr Fiala’s cabinet, Czechia’s exit from the EU and NATO, neutrality towards Russia, or renewal of cheap energy imports from Russia. Cases of racists insults targeting Roma Czechs at the demonstrations were also reported. Rysavy, Zdenek, [“Gypsy bastard!” CT editor Richard Samko faced racist insults at a demonstration against the Czech television”], Romea, 18 November, 2022,… Sybera, Albin, “Prague far-right rally demands peace and resumed imports of Russian gas,” bne Intellinews, 29 September, 2022,…
  • 4“What’s happening in Czechia on November 17?” Radio Prague International, 15 November 2022,
  • 5“Czechs rally against rising extremism and voice support for Ukraine” Reuters, 30 October 2022,….
  • 6“Students occupy Prague universities this week to protest climate change,”, 15 November 2022,….
  • 7For a report on EPH activities which students protested see Heinrich Boll Stiftung, “Daniel Kretinsky’s EPH is harmful for the climate, threatening Europe’s and the world’s future,”…
  • 8Houdek, Pavel, [“Feri Case. The indictment of former deputy can be groundbreaking for all other victims of sexual violence”], Heroine, 24 October, 2022…
  • 9Surveys show that only some 2% of reported rapes result in a criminal sentence in Czechia or that 90% of victims are women. See surveys listed by NGO Konsent: In February 2023 sociologists Petra Havlikova and Iva Smidova from the Masaryk University in Brno published a study which shows that Czech courts systematically pass low sentences in cases of rapes committed in shared households.
  • 10For a concise overview of the developments behind the Czech parliament’s holdback on the Istanbul Convention and the widespread myths and misconceptions about the Convention, see the interview with Respekt magazine editor Silvie Lauder. Skalicky, Matej “Prvni spor vlady a prezidenta. Proc Cesko potrebuje Istanbulskou umluvu,” [The first conflict between the government and the president. Why Czechia needs Istanbul Convention], Czech Radio, 25 April, 2022,…
Independent Media 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Examines the current state of press freedom, including libel laws, harassment of journalists, and editorial independence; the operation of a financially viable and independent private press; and the functioning of the public media. 5.005 7.007
  • In October, the Czech Parliament passed a legislative proposal aimed at making the process of electing members to the public broadcasting council immune to political manipulation,1 which had become a common practice under the Babiš cabinet. According to the proposal, the Senate will elect one-third of council members after nominations by long-standing civic organizations.
  • Lack of sufficient funding has been a persistent issue for Czech public media, which are praised as the most resilient in the region regarding outside pressure from political as well as nonpolitical actors.2 While the current fee model insulates Czech Radio and Czech TV from political meddling, it also does not reflect the rising costs of quality broadcasting. In October, the International Press Institute pointed out3 that lack of funding, along with disinformation and political pressure from ANO and SPD, are the main risks to maintaining the public media’s trusted position.4
  • Disinformation continued to thrive in Czechia on alternative outlets, channels, and in the form of chain emails despite the new cabinet’s pledge to do more to tackle it than the previous government. These platforms often replicate Kremlin propaganda in the Czech context, such as blaming the current cabinet or EU sanctions against the Kremlin for the country’s energy crisis. Anti-green narratives were frequently amplified by large commercial media, including outlets from the Czech News Center and Mafra, the two largest publishing houses in the country, as well as by populist and nationalist politicians, including Miloš Zeman (SPO), Andrej Babiš (ANO), and Tomio Okamura (SPD).
  • In February, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government requested that internet service providers block websites that disseminate Kremlin propaganda,5 the most visible action taken by the cabinet that nevertheless sparked criticism over freedom of speech.
  • In February, Mafra Publishing ran a front page image of Andrej Babiš with the headline “Do you trust media?”6 This move epitomized the outsized influence that opposition leader Babiš wields over the media market through his links to Agrofert and ownership of Mafra, which also includes several popular radio stations.
  • Corporate influence on the media was evident during the year, such as energy interests represented in privately owned media. Efforts to implement a windfall tax in line with EU recommendations in May were regularly ridiculed by private conservative media. Student climate protests were also smeared by business influencers on social media platforms (see “Civil Society”). The NGO Re-Set found that media making such claims do so to “support the interests of their owners.”7
  • Award-winning journalist Lukáš Valášek received a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP)8 following his series of investigations into covert Chinese influence campaigns.
Local Democratic Governance 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Considers the decentralization of power; the responsibilities, election, and capacity of local governmental bodies; and the transparency and accountability of local authorities. 6.006 7.007
  • The 2022 Senate elections saw a surprise victory by museum historian Martin Krsek over Ústí nad Labem mayor Petr Nedvědický (ANO). Krsek described poverty in the regions as the single most important issue for the country to tackle, claiming that “in 30 years since the [November 1989] revolution no government has done any important systematic step to even out differences between the regions.”1 Krsek joined forces with Senator Přemysl Rabas to push for legislation to improve living conditions in the country’s impoverished coal regions.2
  • Coalition talks in Prague’s city government stalled over the criminal investigation of Christian Democrat Jan Wolf, one of the leaders of the victorious conservative formation SPOLU, and Pirate Party’s insistence on including Praha Sobě, a local anticorruption party, until January 2023. SPOLU insisted on a coalition that would include Pirates and Mayors, replicating the national government’s ruling coalition.3
  • A proposal for a community energy bill, long advocated by NGOs aiming to decentralize Czechia’s energy industry, was filed for consultations between relevant ministries after being recalled by the Industry Ministry earlier in the year. The bill paves the way for establishing sustainable energy sharing communities in villages, small towns, or town quarters. Community energy sharing could speed up the development of renewable energy and decentralize the current energy status quo dominated by the corporate trio EPH, ČEZ, and Sev.En Group.4
  • The “Dozimetr” corruption scandal and Brno police raids (see “Corruption”) demonstrated the persistence of regional power strongholds that conflate business interests with politics, from Zlín to Brno to Prague.5
  • 1…
  • 2Krsek, Martin, “Press release: Help for the poor industrial regions needs to be specified by law”, Martin Krsek’s website, 30 January 2023,…
  • 3ANO made a surprise runner up with nearly a 20%, followed by the Pirate Party (17.73%) Praha Sobe (14.72%), and Mayors and Independents (7.76%). Far right and anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD) of businessman Tomio Okamura is represented in the Prague city assembly for the first time after it just crossed the 5% threshold in the local election. Although still limited in access to ruling coalitions, SPD made the largest gains relative to its size after it tripled number of its representatives on the municipal level across the country from 161 to 492.
  • 4Press statement on the drafting of the community energy bill, “One step closer to a shared and clean energy” Union of Modern Energy, Novemer 7, 2022,…
  • 5Dozimetr’s key persona Michal Redl comes from a well-established regional family in Zlín, active in the casino business. The family has financed local politicians through official sponsoring and strong informal ties which it utilized after these politicians moved up from regional level politics to national politics in the capital of Prague. The Brno corruption scandals, which involve several branches of police investigations and links a couple of prime suspects to the notorious “Stoka” scandal, similarly point to strong kleptocratic ties in regional and municipal politics there.
Judicial Framework and Independence 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Assesses constitutional and human rights protections, judicial independence, the status of ethnic minority rights, guarantees of equality before the law, treatment of suspects and prisoners, and compliance with judicial decisions. 5.756 7.007
  • Pavel Blažek has been one of the most controversial figures in Prime Minister Fiala’s cabinet since his appointment as Justice Minister in 2021, due to his involvement in various corruption scandals (see “Corruption”).1 In August, Blažek was accused by a professional association of judges as well as Transparency International CZ2 of meddling with prosecutorial appointments related to an investigation that implicated the minister himself, a clear conflict of interest that could undermine the probe.3
  • The Justice Ministry’s long-awaited amendment to the law on state prosecutors had yet to be implemented by year’s end. The latest ministerial proposal was criticized by the Supreme State Prosecutor in November as well as ruling coalition ministers despite Blažek’s pledges that his proposal would have wide support.4 The latest developments were also challenged by the Constitutional Court.5
  • In October, Parliament adopted the country’s own version of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which will enable the sanctioning of individuals or organizations as well as regimes that violate human rights or use terrorist methods or cyberattacks.6 It will also enable the state to forbid entry to Czechia and to seize assets of individuals and organizations that qualify under the new law.
  • The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs introduced “Milostivé léto II” from September 1 to November 30. This new measure further addresses Czechia’s prevailing personal debt crisis,7 following Milostivé léto I, which terminated 50,000 debt collection proceedings, and was welcomed by NGOs. However, these efforts are still far short of making a meaningful impact for the nearly 700,000 citizens trapped in personal debt,8 half of whom have likely been facing enforced debt collection proceedings for a decade or longer.9
  • A same-sex marriage bill was drafted by MPs from Pirates and Mayors party in May, causing a backlash from conservative MPs from the opposition as well as ruling coalition parties.10
  • President Zeman pressed his controversial candidate for Deputy Public Defender in October11 but was overridden by Parliament in favor of the Senate candidate Vít Alexander Schorm. The former deputy Monika Šimůnková resigned in August over disputes with Public Defender Stanislav Křeček following his demeaning comments about Czech Roma.12
  • Upholding Roma minority rights and securing equal opportunities for the community in Czechia continued to be of concern. The government approved its Strategy for the Equality, Inclusion, and Participation of Roma (Romani Integration Strategy) for 2021–30 in November, which included the appointment of Lucie Fuková as Commissioner for Romani Minority Affairs in December.13 Still, 2022 saw double standards14 by Czech authorities towards the human rights of Romani, such as Roma war refugees from Ukraine who were stranded at train stations in Prague and Brno before temporary shelters were set up.15
  • Czech authorities have been criticized by human rights organizations16 as well as Czech Human Rights Commissioner Klára Laurenčíková17 for rejecting applications for state compensation due to forced sterilizations of Romani women, allegedly for failing to provide evidence that the sterilizations were involuntary. In June, the Health Ministry released an update18 informing applicants that the online system is overloaded, causing delays.19
Corruption 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Looks at public perceptions of corruption, the business interests of top policymakers, laws on financial disclosure and conflict of interest, and the efficacy of anticorruption initiatives. 4.254 7.007
  • In March, President Zeman issued a controversial pardon for Miloš Balák, head of the Presidential Forests Administration.1 Just days earlier, Balák had been sentenced to three years in prison for his role in fixing a CZK 200 million public tender for the Klíčava water retention project in Lány forest.2
  • In a continuation of the “Dozimetr” scandal, police carried out raids in June that implicated several MPs (Mayors).3 At the center of this latest scandal was Mayors sponsor Michal Redl, whose contacts with high-ranking Mayors-elected officials served as one of the opposition’s arguments for filing a no-confidence vote against the cabinet on September 1 (see “National Democratic Governance”).
  • AVE CZ, one of Czechia’s largest waste management companies, was charged for systematic evasion of environmental taxes amounting to CZK 3.76 billion.4 AVE CZ’s key shareholder is billionaire Daniel Křetínský, also a majority shareholder of EPH, the country’s largest private energy company.
  • In October, there were two rounds of police raids of offices in Brno that targeted municipal and city leaders. These local ODS politicians included Brno mayor Markéta Vaňková and council member Otakar Bradáč, close collaborators of Justice Minister Blažek.5
  • Legislation requiring qualifying legal entities to disclose their ownership structure was amended in October to redefine “beneficial owners” and clarify exemptions. The amendment came less than two years after the law was introduced, prompted by EU directive 2015/849 on the prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism. The directive’s transposition was one of the conditions for Czechia drawing EU funds under the post-COVID Recovery and Resilience Facility.6
  • In November, the Czech cabinet belatedly approved a whistleblower protections act, transposing EU directive 2019/1937. The bill’s final version was criticized7 by anticorruption NGOs for providing only elementary protections yet failing to reflect recommendations made by the cabinet’s council for coordination to combat corruption.8
  • The trial of former prime minister Andrej Babiš and former Agrofert manager Jana Nagyová began in the fall over conflicts of interest that have entangled Babiš since he entered national politics in 2013, and was still ongoing at year’s end.

Author: Albin Sybera, a Czech national living in Slovenia, is a freelance journalist, news reporter at bne Intellinews, and Foresight Editor at the Warsaw-based think tank and magazine Visegrad Insight. He is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, researching constructions of Czech national identity in the media. His interviews, commentaries, and analyses regularly appear in the Guardian, Balkan Insight, Just Security, Czech Radio, RTV Slovenia, N1, and Hospodářské noviny. Sybera holds degrees in Philosophy from Carleton University, Ottawa, and Reading European Cultures from the University of Glasgow.

  • 1The office never presented any formal application for the presidential pardon. The case was largely reported as an example of kleptocratic ties developed around the presidential office and its mismanagement during Zeman’s two terms in office. See: Cemusova, Tereza, “Jedina strank a zadne zduvodneni,” [Just one page and no argumentation. Look at Zeman’s pardon for Castle official Balak], Czech Radio, 16 April 2022,š-balak-Milošt-lany-prezident-…
  • 2Czech Radio, “Soud potvrdil sefovi Lesni spravy Lany tri roky vezeni. Dostal i penezity trest a zakaz cinnosti” [Court has confirmed three years prison term to the head of Lany Forest Administration. He was also handed a financial punishment and a ban] Czech Radio, 24 March 2022,š-balak-lesni-sprava-lany-soud…
  • 3The raids targeted the Prague Transportation Company, Prague Municipal offices, VZP state insurance company and several apartments, and took into custody eleven people, including the Deputy Mayor of Prague, several other associates from the Mayor Party, and some known criminals. The raids ultimately brought down the Czech Education Minister and the newly appointed Head of Foreign Intelligence for their association with Mayor sponsor Michal Redl.
  • 4“The police are prosecuting a waste company for cutting taxes with damage of 3.76 billion crowns,” České Noviny, 25 August 2022,…; “AVE CZ, the largest waste company in the Czech Republic, is being prosecuted by criminal investigators at the initiative of Transparency,” Transparency International, 4 June 2023,….
  • 5The case began as a privatization scheme discovered has its origins three years ago, and according to a key witness, regional politician Pavel Hubalek, the scheme was run by current Justice Minister Pavel Blazek and ODS Mayor Marketa Vankova. Some of the suspects were also investigated as part of the notorious “Stoka” case from two years ago. Jelínková, Adéla and Lukáš Valášek, “Kauza brněnských bytů. Lidovci a ODS schválili prodej skupině odsouzeného taxikáře” [The case of the Brno apartments. People’s Party and ODS approved the sale to the group a sentenced taxi driver],, 19.10.2022,…
  • 6Guryčová, Kristýna, “Miliardy v ohrožení? Babišův střet zájmů I čerpání dotací komplikují spor s Bruselem o evidence majitelů” [Billions in danger? Babiš’ conflict of interest and drawing of subsidies is hindered by a row with Brussels over the ownership registry], Czech Radio, 15 December 2021,…
  • 7Czech Radio, “Oznamovatele korupce by diky zakonu nemuseli byt brani jako nejaci praskaci, vysvetluje pravnik.” [Whistle-blowers might not be viewed as informants thanks to the [new] law, lawyer explains], Czech Radio, 23 November 2022,…
  • 8Ministry of Justice website, motions passed by the government council for coordination of the fight with corruption, Pirate Party, which has whistle-blowers protection high on its agenda, refused to back the incomplete proposal at first, claiming it was worse than Babiš’s proposed version of the law, but conceded that in some ways it goes beyond EU recommendations.

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  • Global Freedom Score

    92 100 free