Thursday’s session of Parliament was like no other. Dozens of deputies exchanged their suits for scout uniforms to mark “den svatého Jiří” or St. George’s Day – St George being the patron saint of scouting. The usual tension between the ruling and opposition benches was absent as deputies showed off their long forgotten scouting skills and recalled their days in the Scouts movement.
On St. George’s day many of the country’s approximately 45 thousand scouts went to school or to work proudly wearing their scout’s uniform. But, inevitably it was MPs who stole the limelight. There were more than the usual number of journalists present in Parliament and the often uncommunicative MPs were suddenly jovial and willing to talk. The prime minister showed off his skills at tying the complicated “dragon’s knot” while others went out onto the terrace to try and light a fire without matches. They jokingly addressed each other by their scouts’ nicknames and Prime Minister Topolánek was happy to reveal his to the press.
On a more serious note, deputies said they considered it important to show respect for the scouting tradition and bring it into the spotlight. Although in the Czech lands the scouting movement had a turbulent history – having been banned by both the Nazis and the Communists – it survived and is once again taking strong root. Parliament’s attempt to help that process was no doubt highly commendable though it left many Czechs cracking jokes about whether Czech MPs could still pass some of the traditional scouting tests: to maintain silence, prove your courage and stay awake for as long as necessary.
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