What next for anti-Babiš group Million Moments for Democracy?

18-11-2019

Organisers Million Moments for Democracy said around 300,000 people attended their latest demonstration against Czech PM Andrej Babiš on Saturday. But having evidently achieved the biggest protests they can, and with winter approaching, what is next for the group?

Mikuláš Minář, photo: ČTK/Michal KamarytMikuláš Minář, photo: ČTK/Michal Kamaryt The leader of Million Moments for Democracy, Mikuláš Minář, told a huge crowd at Letná Plain on Saturday that the attendance was 300,000.

Though the real figure may well have been lower (police said turnout was around 200,000), it was essentially a repeat of a gathering in June that was then the largest in the group’s series of protests against Prime Andrej Babiš.

Among those in attendance this time was actor Ondřej Cihlář.

“I think it could be a good start of changes. Of course, not many changes come from the street. Of course, the place for change is elsewhere. But it’s necessary to have power for change and this power can come from the street, from events like this.”

Letná Plain, November 16 2019, photo: ČTK/Roman VondroušLetná Plain, November 16 2019, photo: ČTK/Roman Vondrouš The changes Million Moments for Democracy are demanding are radical.

They want the resignation of Andrej Babiš as prime minister, claiming he is in conflict of interest over his ties to Agrofert, the huge conglomerate he set up. They also want the removal of Marie Benešová as his minister of justice.

Given Mr. Babiš is very unlikely to give in to their demands, what can Million Moments for Democracy – established specifically to oppose him – do next?

The group’s deputy head Benjamin Roll says one thing they won’t do is form a political party.

“We are trying to say to people, No, you have to care every day – you can achieve something even though you are not in politics. That’s what we are trying to change – this way of thinking. Another thing is we have huge support and it’s really colourful, from left to right. We would lose this if we created a party, because if we wanted to create a party, we would have to be concrete in a political programme. When you create something like that, you lose those who disagree with it. And even inside our movement, we are really different kinds of people, from left to right – so maybe even we wouldn’t agree on a programme.”

Andrej Babiš, photo: Ondřej TomšůAndrej Babiš, photo: Ondřej Tomšů Mikuláš Minář says if the PM doesn’t announce his resignation by the end of the year, Million Moments for Democracy will announce their next steps in early January.

But given winter is drawing near, and the group seem to have achieved the biggest protests they can, where do they go from here?

Political scientist Jiří Pehe says Million Moments for Democracy could be reenergised if a final European Commission report finds, like the preliminary version, Mr. Babiš to be in conflict of interest over his ties to Agrofert.

“But of course if the European Commission says that Mr. Babiš may be in a slight conflict of interest, but in the end their will be no punitive action, that may of course take the wind from the sails of the movement.”

18-11-2019