Concerns Over Future Freedoms Rise: More Than 60% of Czechs Fear Loss of Liberties, Reveals Festival of Freedom Survey

A recent survey conducted by STEM/MARK for the Festival of Freedom indicates that over 60% of Czech citizens fear a potential erosion of their freedoms in the future. The study, which involved 511 respondents aged 15 to 64, revealed a prevailing apprehension among the public regarding the preservation of liberties gained during historical events, particularly the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

The Festival of Freedom, an organization that annually orchestrates events commemorating the significant date of November 17, found that approximately one in four respondents believe they are already living in an oppressive society. The date, marking the Nazi crackdown on university students in 1939 and later the protests against the communist regime in 1989, holds deep historical significance for Czechs and has become a national holiday celebrated spontaneously in the streets.

Jan Gregar, chairman of the board of the Festival of Freedom, emphasized the importance citizens place on freedoms achieved through the revolution. He noted that freedom of speech and the freedom to elect political representatives were deemed more crucial than the freedom to travel or own property by a majority of respondents. However, Gregar expressed concern over the survey results, labeling them as a “warning sign” due to the high percentage of people anxious about potential future restrictions on their liberties.

The survey highlighted that 69% of respondents consider the freedom to vote as very important, closely followed by 68% emphasizing the significance of freedom of speech, and 64% valuing the freedom to travel. Additionally, nearly 72% ranked the freedom to choose a profession as very important.

As the nation gears up for the commemoration of November 17, the survey also shed light on public expectations. While 16% of respondents were unfamiliar with the historical events of November 17, around 40% anticipate discussions about the present and future, 31% expect a commemoration of history, and 29% anticipate acts of remembrance.

Despite the collective significance attached to the day, the survey found that almost half of the respondents do not consider themselves active in civil society. On the actual holiday, November 17, two-thirds of respondents reported doing nothing special, while 12% marked the day at home or at commemorative events. Approximately 7% expressed a willingness to attend a commemorative event if one was organized near their residence.

The Festival of Freedom plans to uphold tradition by hosting various events on November 17, including performances on Narodni in the center of Prague, a concert on Wenceslas Square, and the awarding of the Memory of the Nation Prize. The organization will also support events held by civic initiatives across numerous cities, reinforcing the importance of remembering and cherishing the hard-fought freedoms of the past.

Article by Prague Forum

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