CZECH REPUBLIC: The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) move against non-profits, attempting to cut them out from state financial support

Article originally published in Czech on, 31 March 2020 – accessible here

According to the draft law published on the website of the Chamber of Deputies, only organizations from the field of culture, education and health and social services could now apply for support in the form of a state subsidy.

The proposal thus excludes from the scope of support, for example, non-profit organizations dealing with anti-corruption activity or those dedicated to nature and landscape protection. However, according to critics, even those NGOs who would be able to apply for support would have many more complications. The proposal limits the possibilities of co-financing projects, limits the time conditions for subsidies and proposes disproportionate fines in the order of millions if the conditions are not met.

“Subsidies can only be provided for the implementation of beneficiary projects that contribute to the fulfillment of state policy objectives arising from the main areas of state subsidy policy approved by the government,” the text of the law also states. However, legislators would thus reduce the role of non-profit organizations as mere executors of government decisions and thus significantly impair the possibility of opposing government decisions, which should be subject to public discussion financed from taxpayers’ money due to the public interest.

Non-profit organizations, with all their power, replace the state where it cannot respond adequately.

Opponents of the proposal include, for example, the Green Party, which immediately criticized the draft law. Its co-chairman Michal Berg described the proposal of communist deputies Vojtěch Filip, Stanislav Grospič, Zdeněk Ondráček, Pavel Kováčik, Miloslava Vostrá, Jiří Valenta and Marie Pěnčíková as an attack on civil society and an effort to weaken one of the pillars of democracy in the Czech Republic. “It is unbelievable that the KSČM is coming up with it at a time of emergency, in which many non-profit organizations are doing their best to replace the state where it cannot respond adequately,” Berg added in a press release by the Greens.

However, the fight against “political” non-profits is not just the domain of the KSČM. The proposal to repeal the Act on the Public Protection of Human Rights, and thus the de facto liquidation of the office in charge of this issue by Václav Klaus Jr., goes in a similar direction. In addition, the MP as leader of the right-wing populist party Trikolóra, together with MP Zuzana Majerová Zahradníková, also submitted a proposal to amend the Act on Associations in Political Parties and Political Movements. Among other things, this amendment would allow an increase in the amount that can be spent on a political party’s election campaign from the current 90 to 200 million and would allow the financing of political parties through legal donations.