A mobile work of art by sculptor Jan Padysak consisting of busts of former prime minister Andrej Babis, former ODS mayor of Prague Pavel Bem and controversial ODS “godfathers” Roman Janousek and Ivo Rittig assembled around a gutter was unveiled in Prague’s Old Town Square.
The four men represent politicians and lobbyists who have been accused of some of the most egregious cases of abuse of power and systematic corruption within the Prague municipality and the Czech government. None have ever been convicted of corruption.
The art event was backed by the Solidarity coalition of Social Democrats, Greens, Future and Idealists, which is running in next weekend’s municipal elections on a joint list led by former dissident and former mediator Anna Sabatova.
Solidarity as well as the independent people’s party Praha Sobe (Praguers for themselves) and the Pirates have warned against the prospect of Babis’ populist ANO and the right-wing ODS forming a coalition in Prague, by far the biggest city of the country with nearly 1.5 million inhabitants. , accounting for about a quarter of the country’s GDP.
Prague, which has been ruled by current Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s ODS for most of the past three decades, has become notorious for corruption, although few politicians have been convicted. The ODS has a long history of corruption, with all of its previous prime ministers having resigned amid scandals. For its part, ANO has always claimed to be an anti-corruption party and won support from the ODS scandals, but Babis himself is currently on trial for fraud.
The current ruling coalition of the Pirate Party, Praha Sobe, and the centre-right TOP09 and Mayors and Independents (STAN) parties faces a tough challenge from the ODS and ANO in the elections municipal elections on September 23 and 24.
In 2020, a coalition of right-wing parties and ANO ousted the leadership of Prague 1 district, covering much of historic downtown Prague, after the then-incumbent coalition led by Praha Sobe, Pirates and Greens attempted to suppress casino activity in the city centre. The January town hall session that preceded the eviction was reportedly attended by nightclub bouncers, some of them wearing Ku Klux Klan t-shirts and intimidating the public.
Praha Sobe chief Jan Cizinsky recently said his goal was to cut Prague off from the influence of the people behind the “Dozimetr” affair – a kickback scheme at the Prague Transport Company that rocked the STAN party this summer – where politicians in Praha Sobe launched a police investigation.