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Czech government under pressure over corruption

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš made big claims last year about clamping down on corruption and safeguarding whistleblowers. Yet critics are now accusing the government of being much less willing to act than their talk would suggest.

Babiš took leadership of the anti-corruption council last summer, the first sitting prime minister to do so.

And yet the reality has not matched the rhetoric. Many voices from civil society are complaining that very little has changed.

“Experience shows that if the government doesn’t start promoting reforms in the early stage of their term, very often nothing happens at the end and that leads to great disappointment,” said David Ondráčka of Transparency International. “In my view, the time is now to come up with proposals and try to generate political consensus. Otherwise it will be lost in translation and nothing will happen.”

The government has dismissed these claims, with justice ministry’s spokesman Vladimír Řepka saying, “The ministry of justice has prepared three concrete laws … The law concerning the Supreme Audit Office has been approved by government and was submitted to Parliament in December 2018. We also have the law on lobbying, which will contain a new amendment concerning the activity. This proposal was submitted to government on the December 27.”

Critics have countered that the reforms are simply recycled bills which the ruling party have already voted down before.

In terms of tangible progress, and, critically, public confidence in such progress, there is sadly a long way to go.

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