Socialist Worker

Anti-war campaigners help force out Czech PM

by Jan Majicek, Czech No Bases Campaign
Issue No. 2145

The Czech Republic's prime minister Mirek Topolanek was toppled last week by a parliamentary no-confidence vote.

There are several reasons why the right wing coalition government collapsed. We are proud to say that the movement against the US missile defence bases played its part.

The government fell exactly one week after it was forced to withdraw a planned parliamentary vote on the radar treaties out of fear that it would lose the debate.

The No Bases initiative was key to this – putting pressure on opposition MPs to demand a vote on the issue.

It has been almost three years since the US and the Czech ruling elites agreed to site a US military base in the Czech Republic. It was to be a part of a so-called 'shield' against long-range missiles.

This project descended from the Star Wars project launched by US president Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and was given a new impetus under George Bush and by the 'war on terror'.

Topolanek formed his coalition government at the beginning of 2007 and immediately announced the beginning of negotiations with the US on its military bases in the Czech Republic.

But the movement against the bases had already been in the streets since 2006.

There have been a series of protests in the Czech Republic against the US bases, including national demonstrations and international conferences.

We managed to convince large numbers of people that this project could be stopped. And even many of those who were less sure that we could win this battle didn't stay passive.

This was shown by the involvement of thousands of people around the country. Government and media propaganda told us that Iran and North Korea were ready to nuke us and so we needed the missile defence system.

When this lie failed, our government tried, with collaboration of the mainstream media, to accuse us of being Russian agents.

Despite all of this, the most recent polls showed that 70 percent of Czech people are against the bases.

What does the government's collapse mean for the future of the US missile defence plans? The radar treaties can now only be ratified by parliament if the Social Democrats betray the movement and support the US plans.

We will continue to protest against anybody who tries to put this project back on the table. Our priority now is a national demonstration next weekend when Barack Obama will be in Prague.


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