Million Moments for Democracy Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary

On February 25, 2018, Milion chvilek pro demokracii (lit. ‘A Million Moments for Democracy’)  was conceived as a petition for Andrej Babiš’ resignation from parliament, arguing that someone under criminal investigation should not be allowed to hold the position of Prime Minister.

Although they fell short of their goal for one million signatures, the organization has continued to maintain a strong civic presence within the Czech
republic, urging for greater accountability in government and greater civic participation.

They are predominantly funded through private donations and fundraisers.

We met Hana Strašáková, spokesperson for Milion chvilek pro demokracii.

“Over the five years of our activity, we have gathered know-how on how to talk to those who do not vote for democratic political parties and who do not agree with Million of Moments. … Our goal will undoubtedly be to unite all the people who care about the future of our country. And that will undoubtedly require a greater focus on non-urban citizens.”

Earlier this year, Petr Pavel was elected President of the Czech Republic after two rounds of voting,receiving 35.40% of votes in the first round and 58.31% in the second. Prior to being elected President, Petr Pavel served as the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

“[Million Moments for Democracy] will monitor Petr Pavel and his activities in the same way as his predecessor. However, it is certain that the election of Petr Pavel is a big change in the political culture and the certainty of maintaining the course towards the west,” said Strašáková.

Hana Strašáková

“We can now look at him as a partner with whom we can walk the path of uniting society and nurturing democracy. We perceive him as a president who “is normal”. It may sound like a banality, but believe me, after ex-president Miloš Zeman, the label “normal” is a great compliment.”

Looking towards the future, Strašáková outlined what Million Moments for Democracy wishes to see from Pavel’s presidency. “[Million moments is hoping] that he will support the values of Western democratic society and that he will stay within the limits of his powers, within the limits of the law.”

The war in Ukraine

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over 5 million Ukrainians have been displaced – crossing borders into neighbouring countries – and an estimated 475,000 Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed into the Czech Republic.

To date, they have organized several events to bring about awareness of – and display solidarity with – the people of Ukraine.

“Since the beginning of the war, we have been calling for support for organizations that care for refugees or work directly on the territory of Ukraine.
We organized several events in support of Ukraine, which were attended by a hundred thousand people, to call on Czech citizens to persistently help Ukraine, but also to support and unite Ukrainians who fled to us before the war. We connect non-profit organizations, personalities and celebrities to
make aid to Ukraine as effective as possible. We also teamed up with cities across Europe and together did an event at the same time, which was joined by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyi.”

When asked about their plans to provide assistance to Ukrainians, both domestic and abroad, Million Moments for Democracy discussed the importance of monitoring the government to ensure the funding allocated to Ukrainian aid will remain effective.

“Our big task is also to help society deal with the effects of war, such as energy or economic crises. [We] watch over the government of the Czech Republic so that aid to Ukraine does not become just a cover for it to make bad decisions that do not benefit the people or the future economy in the Czech Republic.” Strašáková commented.

Protests set up by pro-Russian right-wing parties occurred in Prague on September 28, 2022, and had tens of thousands of people in attendance. Right-wing voters were not the only ones to patronise this event, but rather a selection of individuals from across the entire political spectrum.

“We spread verified information and tried to prevent people from being paralyzed by fear. We organized a large Czech campaign against fear, which was supposed to reassure our citizens that we can handle the winter and to support them in helping Ukraine”

In her final comment on the topic, Strašáková stressed the need to keep the conversation about Ukraine in the forefront of the public zeitgeist. “Our task is to spread the word about the need to support Ukraine because it is now the living shield of Europe. There is also a need to reduce pro-Russian and hateful sentiments towards Ukrainian refugees. To calm the frightened. And to explain what it means to be in solidarity.”

On February 25th, Million Moments for Democracy celebrated its 5-year anniversary. “In five years, the mood and situation in society has changed. We have passed through unprecedented crises and many challenges still await us. Society is fragmented by existential fear and a heated election
campaign. Many people wished for a different election result. It is therefore important now to find a common language among ourselves – with voters of all candidates, with non-voters and with seekers. Petr Pavel said in his statements that he would be the president of all. We must therefore now see to it that they fulfill their promises.”

In a final comment, she outlined how the organization will move forward, and how they plan to assist the ever-changing political landscape in the Czech Republic.

“Our task will be to unite everyone who is not indifferent to what country they live in and what they will leave behind for future generations. We must not slack off in helping the needy, people on the margins of society and the people around us. If we have at least a little to give, let’s give. The image of
the future of our country needs to be composed with all fellow citizens. And I also believe that it will finally be possible to get Andrej Babiš into political retirement and limit the populist and extremist parties in the Chamber of Deputies.”

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